Our family tradition is to spend the weekend after Thanksgiving decorating the house for Christmas. We put up the tree and Christmas lights, which is such a fun thing to do as a family. I have one very important message for our new dog, Ruffy: Thou shalt not lift thine leg on the Christmas tree. And I mean it!
Since I was in the spirit, I also decided to cook up a storm this weekend. It’s great to have a fridge full of prepared foods that are ready to go. I spent practically the entire weekend in the kitchen. I’ve run the dishwasher 4 times in the past 2 days, sheesh! My husband assures me that our dishwasher is eco-friendly and actually uses less water and resources than handwashing, so that’s good.
I’d love to show you what I made. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am trying to switch to a Paleo diet. I am doing this slowly, and I’m up to 2 meals a day plus snacks. Hopefully I can make the permanent, full switch and stick with it!
This recipe is from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC. The recipe is actually for a pie filling, but I decided to make it into a frozen treat instead. Next time, I would add little sticks to make popsicles, yum! Ingredients: fresh raspberries, lemon zest and juice, medjool dates, and coconut oil and butter.
Homemade Apple Sauce
I keep saying to my husband, “This was so easy to make, and it tastes SO much better than store-bought apple sauce. Why wouldn’t anyone just make their own?” This is a Paleo applesauce with only 3 ingredients: apples, honey, and water (oh, and a dash of cinnamon). Tastes phenomenal, and no added sugar! Find the recipe here.
This recipe is also from the book Practical Paleo. I got to use my food processor a lot this weekend! These taste wonderful and actually don’t use too many eggs (only 3). I plan to warm them up for breakfasts throughout the week, in addition to my Paleo Waffles I blogged about on Thanksgiving.
Apple Cider Beef Roast
I also came up with my own ‘recipe’ for a beef shoulder/roast I picked up at the grocery store. First, I added coconut oil, sea salt, and black pepper and pan-seared the roast in a skillet – a couple of minutes, just enough to seal in the flavor. Then I transferred the meat and oils to a casserole dish which I filled with apple cider (not covering the meat, but probably about an inch high). I see now that I need to purchase a Dutch oven – hint, Christmas gift! I baked the roast at 400 degrees for about an hour. It was very juicy and tasty! I served it with a side of baked yams and roasted squash. P.S. The dogs LOVE squash. Who knew? I always try to sneak a few vegetables into their food, and this one was a hit!
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Here’s a link to the recipe for these amazing chocolate chip cookie bars. I added walnuts to mine. My husband and I are definitely going to fight over these!
Later this week, I hope to make these Energy Bars. You know, my favorite thing about Paleo recipes is how SIMPLE they are! Just a couple of ingredients, things I already have on hand, and nothing crazy or exotic I have to go to a speciality grocery store to find. It’s perfect for me and my busy teacher lifestyle!
I have one more thing to share with you all regarding Paleo foods. I found a great new blog called Nom Nom Paleo. She’s great! She recommended this Spiral Vegetable Slicer. I have wanted one of these for a while, and the reviews were great and the price was right – I ordered it! Excited to give this a try. Squash spaghetti, anyone?
TpT can really help you out of a jam. Are you sick? Have an unexpected absence? Looking for a new idea to spice up your unit? Have a great idea that will take you hundreds of hours, and wish someone could just do the legwork for you? TpT is the place to be! For extremely reasonable prices, you can find some amazing ideas generated by expert and veteran teachers from across the globe! If you know a teacher who hasn’t yet discovered Teacherspayteachers.com – introduce them to the teachers’ best friend!
So as you may know, I do sell my lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers. It has been a true blessing for me and for my teaching practice. I have learned so much over the past year by meeting and collaborating with other teachers, discussing important educational topics on the forums, and learning how to create engaging and targeted lessons. I always felt that my lesson plans were solid – targeted, authentic, scaffolded, and meaningful – but I never thought to take it the extra step to make it even more engaging. On TpT I have learned the value of graphic design. Color, proportion, layout – all of these things may seem frivolous at first, but they truly are not. Students live in a visual world, and anything we can do to make materials look more authentic, professional, and inviting is worth our time.
Creating lesson plans for other teachers to use has also taught me how to be more precise and clear. I always thought, “Well, I know what I’m doing and that’s all that matters. I don’t need to write down every little thing.” It turns out that ‘writing down every little thing,’ forces one to be more reflective and introspective, possibly generating ideas or seeing a new perspective they hadn’t considered. The monetary incentive of publishing my lesson plans (and fyi – I make very little, but I have been able to make a couple payments on my student loans) and making them available to others – having the honor of impacting students beyond my own classroom – has molded me into a better teacher. Period. I love Teachers Pay Teachers!
That being said, TpT is an incredible amount of work. I estimate that I spend at least 10 hours a week, on average, developing products, learning and communicating on the forums, on Pinterest, Facebook, blogging, responding to buyers, etc. It’s a part-time job for sure, and I can see how for the very successful sellers it can become a full-time job. I am constantly thinking about how I can do things better!
I wanted to share with you a new advertising page I plan to put at the end of my products. I want teachers who purchase my products to know that I have many wonderful lesson plans and units in my store that could compliment what they are doing in the classroom. I have it organized by Adolescent Writing and Adolescent Reading, even though we all know that they go hand in hand. Most products belong in both categories, but I placed them based on the primary Common Core goals of the unit.
The hyperlinks work on the final document, so if you are interested in any of the above products, you can download the advertising page here. If you are a seller on TpT, you may want to consider adding something like this at the end of your products to let teachers know about the many other wonderful products you have available for them!
Surprise! Teachers Pay Teachers has decided to throw a surprise flash sale of 10% off everything site-wide! In addition, everything in my store is 20% off as well – for you math wizards, this means a combined 28% off everything in my store. What a bargain!
Okay, an alternate title for this post could be “Kristen’s Lazy Chicken Noodle Soup.” I’m not too proud to admit it – I’ll take shortcuts when I can. Teachers are busy, man!
So one of my favorite cooking tricks is what I call ‘Soup Hacking.’ I take a soup mix and ‘hack’ it by adding tons of stuff to it to make it a hearty meal. For lunches this week, I chose chicken noodle soup.
I start with a mix by Bear Creek. Then, I add frozen vegetables and chicken (to other soups, I add pasta, rice, beans, etc.). If I have time, I prefer to grill the chicken or cook it in the slow-cooker, but this week I went for the even-easier rotisserie chicken. I just throw all the ingredients together and boil for 10 minutes – so simple!
Cooking all of this food would have made 10 meals, so I cut everything in half to make 5 lunches. The total cost comes to $10.05 or $1 per meal! I also keep nutrition in mind: each meal contains about 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber.
Happy ‘Stomp Out Bullying Day’ – aka ‘Blue Shirt Day!’ It is a day to stand in solidarity and educate about bullying and cyberbullying.
My sweet students made these awesome posters, which we hung up around the school. They also created videos, poems, and raps to share with the class. We did this during PBIS time (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports), a time built into our school schedule for character building.
Did you celebrate ‘Stomp Out Bullying Day’ at your school?
Around this time of year, I start craving my grandma’s oatmeal bread. It’s filling, nutritious (well, it has oatmeal in it!), and it reminds me of fall and home and Grandma’s house. This is a staple in our house, and I hope it will become one in yours, too!
* 1 cup oatmeal (I used old-fashioned)
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 tsp. vanilla
* 1 & 1/2 cups flour
* 1/4 tsp. salt
* 1 tsp. baking soda
* 1 tsp. cinnamon
* 1/2 cup nuts (optional. I like walnuts)
* 1 & 1/4 cup boiling water
To start, I get out all of the ingredients:
Next, you’ll want to put the oatmeal and butter in a large bowl, then pour the boiling water over the entire mixture. You need to let this stand until all of the butter is melted and the mixture is cool. Once the butter is melted, you can put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. All about a half-hour for this.
(Yes that is my crazy awesome fridge with the Instagram magnets. My husband and I collected them over years and ordered them from StickyGram.)
While that is cooling, prepared all of your other ingredients. You’ll want the sugars in one bowl and all of the other solids (flour, soda, salt, cinnamon) in another bowl.
Then, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 1 large bread pans or 2 small bread pans. I prefer 1 large pan.
Once your mixture is cool, begin by adding the sugars.
Then the vanilla and eggs. (Psst – I actually use this amazing vanilla I bought in Mexico – it’s the best ever!)
And finally, add the flour mixture, a half at a time.
Then, it all goes into the pan, and off to the oven for 50-60 minutes (mine took 58 minutes)
Check with a toothpick to make sure it is completely cooked through. The last part is the hardest – actually allow the bread to cool off before you cut and eat it. Yes, I realize it smells amazing and you’ll want to devour it right away, but patience is a virtue, and burned hands and tongues don’t feel so nice. I feel your pain.
I love to heat up a couple of slices in the microwave, add some butter, and enjoy with some tea for a lovely, filling fall breakfast. Enjoy!
This October marks my one-year anniversary with Teachers Pay Teachers, a great website in which I can meet other committed, passionate teachers like myself, find new ideas for lesson plans, and share/sell my own lesson plans and materials. I have loved being a part of that community, and it has definitely made me a better teacher.
In celebration of my one-year anniversary, I am having a sale and a giveaway! Everything will be 15% off this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Now is a great time to stock up on those items on your wish list. Can I recommend a few great items? These are my top sellers: