Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years!

Who's ready for 2012?  ME!!  Here's a cute video to end your 2011 on a happy note!  Hope to get lots of new readers and try out tons on new Pinterest ideas in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Delish Dinner: Ropa Vieja in the Slow Cooker

My husband is Cuban and although he isn't a huge fan of most traditional Cuban food he loves Ropa Vieja (which literally means "old clothes" in Spanish).  So, with London Broil on sale at Publix, I decided to surprise him and make this for dinner.  Ropa vieja is just a shredded beef with a tomato base and lots of peppers, onions and spices.  We usually eat this with rice and maybe some black beans.  It's really good, and not hard to make in the slow cooker.

  • 2 lb. london broil (or flank steak)
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato paste
  • Sweet onion
  • Green pepper
  • Red pepper
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2-5 tsp. Adobo seasoning
  • 1 pack of Goya Sazon
  • Salt & pepper

1.  Quickly brown the meat in a pan on each side.  Then, I like to season it with some garlic salt and pepper and I shake on some Adobo seasoning as well.  Then, throw it in the crock pot.

2.  Add beef broth, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and seasonings to the crock pot.

3.  Slice the peppers and onion and add to slow cooker.  Mince garlic and add to slow cooker.

4.  Then, I like to kind mix everything up a little.  Obviously, it really doesn't matter what order you put things in a crock pot- as long as it all gets in there it's all good.

5.  Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  (Personally, I think it turns out better when it's cooked all day on low, but it's still good no matter which way to cook it.)

6.  Shred beef with forks and allow to soak in juices and sauce for about 30 more minutes.

7.  Serve up with rice- delicious!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake

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Thanks for visiting from Pinterest!  I hope you enjoy this super easy and yummy recipe!  Follow me on Pinterest so you never miss anything new and then check out some of my other recipes. :)

Every Christmas morning we go to my mom's for a big Christmas breakfast.  This year, I decided to make this new recipe that I found on Pinterest from Oh My Sugar High.  Cinnamon rolls and french toast- sounds like a good combination to me!  This turned out to be super easy to make and super yummy!

  • 2 packages of cinnamon rolls
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
1.  Melt butter and spread in a 9 x 13 pan.

2.  Separate the cinnamon rolls and cut each roll into 8 pieces.  Spread in pan.  Save the icing to use later.

3.  Beat eggs together completely in bowl.  Then add the cream, vanilla, and cinnamon to the eggs and mix thoroughly.  Pour over the cinnamon roll pieces.

4.  Drizzle syrup all over and Sprinkle chopped pecans on top.  (I just put pecans on half of mine) 

5.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 22-28 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.

6.  Take the metal cover off the icing and stick it in the microwave for about 15 seconds or until it is thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle icing all over the top of the baked cinnamon rolls.

Serve with syrup if desired.  It doesn't need it, but I love lots of syrup, so I added it and I wasn't disappointed! Yum!

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    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Edible Christmas Trees

    Every year my school has a Polar Express Day the day before winter break where everybody gets to wear their pajamas and sometime during the day we make hot chocolate and watch Polar Express.  Along with this, my co-teacher and I usually like to do some fun holiday centers.  (We like to do fun stuff every once in awhile since the majority of the time it's work, work, work, learn, learn, learn.)  This year in my class we have 38 kids,  so we had to think of a few more centers than we have had in the past.  So, we added edible Christmas trees to the holiday center repertoire.  It's fun and only needs minor supervision if you're a third grader.

    Here's what you'll need to make your edible trees:

    • Sugar cookies
    • Icing
    • Green food coloring
    • Sugar cones (You can use waffle cones, but they have a curved bottom which is hard to lay flat on the sugar cookie.  Sugar cones are tree shaped, but have completely flat bottoms.
    • Small candies for decorating (M&M's, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, spice drops, whatever your little heart desires...)

    1. Dye the icing green using food coloring and mix it up really well.   

    2.  Use the frosting as glue and frost the sugar cookie for a base and put the cone on top upside down.

    3.  Frost the whole cone with icing.

    4.  Decorate any way you wish.

    5.  Eat and enjoy!

    Warning:  This can get pretty messy!  Here's the proof:

    Here's where I originally found this fun idea on Pinterest:  Edible Christmas Trees.

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    DIY: Christmas Card Garland

    So, it's been more than a week since my last post and I have to apologize. It's been quite hectic in this house with the end of semester finals and projects, teaching, holiday parties, and Monday night Jaguar football!  With the holidays officially in full swing I decided to try my hand at a quick and easy Christmas project.  I don't know about you, but every year I get tons of cute Christmas cards from my family and friends and they just end up lying around on the counter in a big pile.  So, this year I decided to make a Christmas card garland to display all the creative cards with inspiration from a Make and Takes pin I pinned on Pinterest awhile back.  It's super easy and can hang anywhere you want!

    Supplies for Christmas Card Garland:
    • Small wooden clothespins
    • Acrylic paint & foam brush
    • Coordinating buttons
    • Hot glue gun
    • Christmas ribbon (3- 5 yds. depending on where you hang your garland)

    1. Paint your mini clothespins in a color that will coordinate with your ribbon with                          your acrylic paint and foam brush. Allow to dry.
    2. Attach a button with hot glue to the top of each clothespin on the end                                         where you pinch to open the pin.

    3. Cut a 3 to 5 yard piece of ribbon for your garland. The length will depend on where                     you are going to hang it, so measure first and cut once.

    4. Clip Christmas cards to ribbon with clothespins, hang somewhere you can see it,                            and enjoy the creative Christmas greetings!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    The Most Amazing Pumpkin Cake!

    I LOVE pumpkin!  I've made pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, but I had never made a pumpkin cake until a couple of months ago.  And let me tell you - it was amazing!  The first time I made this cake I just made a sheet cake in a 9 x 13 cake pan and topped it with homemade cream cheese frosting.  I took it to work and everybody raved about it.  This cake is super moist- it doesn't even need frosting, but that just makes it that much better.  This time, I had a new bundt pan I wanted to try out so I used that pan.  Again, very yummy!  This recipe originally called for 1 1/4 cups of oil, but I cut it down to 3/4 cup and used 1/2 cup cinnamon flavored applesauce.  I actually didn't find this recipe on Pinterest, but thought it should be on there, so it will after today. :) As you can see, we couldn't wait to test it out before I took the picture- that's how good it is!

    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce 
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups canned pumpkin
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch pan, or bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg. Set aside.
    2. In a large bowl combine sugar, oil, and applesauce. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes (40 for bundt pan), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
    4. Frost cake if you like or dust with powdered sugar.

    Happy Baking!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Rolo Pretzel Bites

    So, here's a really easy recipe so that you can make some yummy little Thanksgiving treats for your friends or just a salty, caramelly, sweet snack for a party or yourself!  It's so fast and easy- it has only 3 ingredients: pretzels, Rolo candies, and pecan halves.  The part that takes the longest in this recipe is unwrapping all of the Rolos!  In the end, these taste like Turtle pretzel bites- how can you not like them?

    Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees.
    Lay some pretzels on a baking sheet (I used square ones, but I'm sure you could use small twists.)  Then, put one Rolo on top of each pretzel.

    Bake it in the oven for 4-5 minutes to let the Rolo soften.  Don't let it stay in too long!  When you remove it from the oven the Rolo will still look the same.  Place a pecan half on top of the Rolo and press down a little. Stick the pan in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes to let everything set.

    Try to eat only one or two of these- you can't!  Indulge your salty-sweet cravings!
    Thank you to Glorious Treats for this gem from Pinterest.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Colorful Words- Using paint chips in Writing

    So, I pinned this idea a while ago because I thought that it would be a great activity to do with my students during Writer's Workshop. This idea originally came from Hello Literacy. I went to a local store and "gathered" a lot of different colored paint chips. Since we were working on narrative writing, I did a lesson about using more descriptive language to spice up our writing. (We focus a lot on using descriptive words so our writing won't be boring.) So, we decided to brainstorm some more "colorful" words to replace some of the same old words that we use a lot in writing. Examples: sad, happy, pretty, ugly, said, fun, nice--- you get the point. I modeled using the word idea. As a class we brainstormed a list of words that are synonyms for idea, but are a bit more interesting. As we brainstormed I wrote them down on a sheet of paper. Then, we picked the six words that we thought were the best and I wrote them on the paint chips. The students got to work in pairs to brainstorm synonyms for their words and write them on the paint chips. They did a great job. (Hint: you might want a list of synonyms ready to help out the kids that can't think of new words.)

    I teach 3rd Grade, but I think any grade 2 and up could do well with this lesson. Just change the words to match your students abilities.

    Here's a close up example of a few words the kids did.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Chicken Parm Bake

    So, I pinned this recipe a few days ago on Pinterest from Food Wishes Video Recipes. It looked so good and not too difficult to make. I tackled it tonight with very yummy results. Basically, I think it tasted better than fried (extra bad for you) Chicken Parmesan.

    So here's what you need to try it for yourself:
    2 lbs. Chicken breast
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    2-3 cloves crushed garlic
    a couple shakes of crushed red pepper
    2 cups marinara sauce (whatever brand you prefer)
    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    1/2 -1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
    5 oz. bag garlic croutons

    First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan with olive oil, stir around garlic and red pepper so that it is evenly distributed. Then lay the chicken breasts in the pan. I used 3 really big chicken breasts, so I cut them in half and even pounded them down a little so they were a bit thinner.

    Next, pour about 2 cups of marinara sauce over the chicken. I don't measure exactly, but I'm sure it was around 2 cups. You can always add more or less according to your preferences. (You can also add more after you cook it if you want more.) After this, scatter about half of the cheese on top of the sauce. Then, here is the secret, spread around the garlic croutons. This is like the breading on the chicken parm. It's awesome because some of the croutons soak up the sauce and then the tops get really crispy when it's baking. Last, scatter the rest of the cheese over the croutons.

    Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. The top will be golden and the sauce will be bubbly when you take it out of the oven.

    Delish! My husband said that I can definitely make this again, so I know it's a winner. It will definitely be added to the dinner rotation. Pinterest project #1= success!

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    The challenge!

    Pinterest has become my new obsession. So much cool stuff, not enough time. So, I am challenging myself to try to do, make, or use one awesome thing I found out from Pinterest a week. This will be where I blog all of the results of my creative attempts. It's my first attempt at blogging for fun, so we'll see how it goes. Feel free to share any of your Pinterest ideas that you've tried too. The more we learn, the better.
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