Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Going To Be A SUPER Year in 5th Grade!

It's a new year in 5th grade with a new theme to boot.  This year is going to be a MARVEL-ous one with our new Superhero themed classrooms. Here's a peek!

Here's my decorated door.  It's Hero Headquarters, aka the 5th Grade Reading Classroom!  It was a snap to make with my Cricut machine.

We continued the theme with our 5th Grade bulletin board and added an inspirational quote for our new Superheroes.

What kid doesn't love to get mail?  I found these cute welcome post cards at a local teacher supply store.  I sent them to students the first week of school.

For Meet the Teacher night, I created this wish list with things we need for our classroom.  I made the cut outs with my Cricut machine and then added labels with items we need.

As a special treat at Meet the Teacher, I left these Hershey candy bars on their desks.  I used colored copy paper to cover the candy bars, then glued the "Top Secret" message on the colored paper.  Then I added a Superhero sticker that I got from Oriental Trading.  The kids loved them.

Their "Top Secret" mission began the first day of school.

Since I'm the reading teacher, I couldn't resist getting this poster from Etsy.  It fits perfect with my class and theme!

These book marks turned out so cute.  It's just colored card stock and superhero stickers that I found at Oriental Trading.  So easy to make.

Here's a cute Spiderman on a bulletin board.  Next to it, it says "Get Caught in a Good Book".  I got it at a party supply store.  Sometimes you find the best things at the oddest stores.

Here are some more decorations that I found.  I got the Superhero masks at a teacher supply store and added them to some paper lanterns.  The Superhero cut outs are from Oriental Trading.  Here's a pic of just one of them.  They come in a pack of 12.  They say things like "Pow!", "Boom!", "Crash!", etc...They look cute around the room.

This was a really fun theme to put together for my classroom.  What are some themes you like to do?  Leave a pic, we'd love to see your classroom!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Baked Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

My husband loves chicken strips, but since he has to eat gluten-free it's hard to find them on a restaurant menu.  As a treat, I sometimes make them for him at home.  To make them healthier, I bake them in the oven instead of frying them.  This recipe is gluten-free friendly, kid friendly, and super easy with only a few ingredients.  Give it a try!

Here's what you'll need:
1 pound chicken tender strips
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten-free)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (sometimes I use 1 cup if I want them extra cheesy- don't judge!)
olive oil

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Makes 4 servings

Here's what to do:

Put the chicken strips into a bowl with buttermilk and let sit for about 20-30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and brush foil with olive oil.

Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a shallow baking dish.

Dip chicken strips into bread crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet.

Before putting into oven, drizzle strips with olive oil.  Don't skip this step if you want crispy strips on both sides!

Bake at 500 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until chicken strips are golden and crispy.

Let sit for a few minutes before transferring to plates or a platter for serving.

To make the dipping sauce:  use a whisk to combine honey, mustard, lemon juice and mayo in a small mixing bowl.  If you have leftover sauce, store in fridge for up to a week.  This honey mustard sauce could be used as a salad dressing too.  It really does taste like a restaurant version!  You could use other dipping sauces like ketchup, Ranch dressing, or BBQ sauce.  Or eat them plain!

This recipe is so easy.  My husband loved it.  In fact, he took leftovers for his lunch the next day!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stuffed Eggplant

When I go to the grocery store and see a beautiful eggplant, I can't resist putting it into my cart. Last week, I made Eggplant Stackers.  Tonight, I wanted to do something different.  My husband and I love stuffed peppers, so I thought stuffed eggplant would be delicious too.  So I rummaged through the fridge and cabinets to see what I could add into this recipe.  I found exactly what I needed.  Some tomatoes, a little cheese, some ground beef, and a few bread crumbs.  It was so good and easy.  On a scale of one to five yums, this Stuffed Eggplant was definitely a five on the scale!

Here's what you'll need:
2 small eggplants
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 -5.5 ounce can V-8 juice
3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
salt & pepper to taste

Here is a great find!  Gluten-free bread crumbs!
For topping:
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (I used gluten-free, see pic above)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Makes 4 servings
(I only needed two servings, so I saved the rest of the beef mixture and will either add it to some pasta or stuff it into some peppers for another dinner).

Here's what to do:
Cook the ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain excess fat using paper towels.

Cut the eggplant lengthwise.  Scoop or cut out the center part.  Dice the center flesh of the eggplant. Sprinkle both the whole parts and the diced eggplant with salt.  Let sit on a paper towel for about 10-15 minutes.

Add diced eggplant to ground beef mixture.  Cook until eggplant is soft.  Add 1 can Rotel tomatoes with juice.  Add 1 small can V-8 juice.  Stir and let simmer together.

Place eggplant on baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until slightly tender.

Add mozzarella cheese to ground beef mixture and stir.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and  Parmesan cheese.  This will be the topping and get nice and crispy.

Fill eggplant "boats" with ground beef mixture and top with Parmesan cheese and bread crumb mixture.  Put back in oven and broil for about 3-5 minutes until topping is golden and crispy.

That's it.  So easy and delicious.  I served it with a green leafy side salad.  Here's my Eggplant Stackers recipe.  It's delish too!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beef Broccoli Stir Fry

My wok made it's grand debut tonight.  I have to make a confession.  This lovely wedding present has been sitting in my closet for quite some time.  I completely forgot all about it to be honest.  Who has room for a big wok in their kitchen cabinets??  Not me.  So, it's been in a closet just waiting for me to notice it again. Tonight was the night!  And it all happened because of a leftover veggie tray.  I went to a party last week and had tons of broccoli and carrots left over.  Aha, I thought.  This would be great in a stir fry AND I have a wok! I decided to put it together with a few other ingredients to make this delicious Beef Broccoli Stir Fry.  

Here's what you'll need:

For the marinade:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use a gluten-free brand)
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Here are two of my cheats!  I use frozen crushed ginger.
It comes in little cubes that you just pop out and add to your dish.
I also use minced garlic from a jar.  
For the stir fry:
1 pound sliced beef (you can buy it pre-sliced in the meat section of your grocery store)
2 cups broccoli florets (I buy the pre-cut ones in the bag)
1 cup carrots, cut into small pieces
2 cups mushrooms
1 red pepper, cut into slices
1/2 yellow onion, cut into thin slices

For the sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce (gluten-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried ginger OR two frozen crushed ginger cubes (see pic above)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

Makes 4 servings.

Here's what to do:

Marinate the slices of beef in the water, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger marinade for about 30 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat up your wok or skillet on high heat.  Add slices of beef along with the marinade to wok.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until meat isn't pink.

Add in onions, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms.  Stir and cook 2 to 3 more minutes.

Add in broccoli.  Stir and cook another 3-5 minutes.

Add sauce and cook until sauce thickens.

For a garnish, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve with rice or noodles, or just plain!
I really wish I'd used my wok sooner!  This was a fun dish to make and  so easy!  Now, we can have Chinese take-out at home anytime we want!!  I'm already planning my next stir fry adventure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Eggplant Stackers

These Eggplant Stackers are so easy to make and so yummy.  I love it when summer produce comes out and eggplant and tomatoes are in season.  This is a great side dish for grilled chicken, or you can just eat it as your main meal!

There are a variety of ways you can make this.  Just use eggplant as your base and top it with just about anything you'd like!  One of my friends makes it like a pizza.  She tops it with marinara sauce and cheese.

Here's what you'll need for the ones I made:
1 small eggplant
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1 roma tomato
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Here's what to do:

Prepare your eggplant for broiling.  Clean eggplant, cut it into discs and then put on a paper towel.  Sprinkle each disc with salt.  This will help absorb all the excess moisture.  Let the eggplant sit on the paper towel for about 20 to 30 minutes.

I don't know if you can see this, but here's what the paper towel looked like after about 20 minutes.  It was soaked with moisture!  You want to get that moisture out or you'll end up with soggy eggplant!

Brush the eggplant with extra virgin olive oil.

Place eggplant on a baking sheet.  Broil eggplant in oven for about 10 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, shred your cheese and slice your tomato.

After eggplant is broiled, top the eggplant with baby spinach leaves, a slice of tomato, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Put back in oven to broil for a few minutes until cheese is melted.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  It would also taste great with a balsamic reduction if you have time to make it.

The cheese gets ooey-gooey and a little crisp on the top from broiling.  The combo of the eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, and cheese make a great summertime side dish.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spinach Apple Salad

Pork chops and apples go together like ying and yang.  Growing up my mom always served pork chops with applesauce. It always tasted great. Tonight I planned to have grilled pork chops for dinner and at first I thought about serving it with applesauce, but honestly I didn't want to go to the trouble of making it and I didn't have any on hand. So, I decided to make a salad using crisp, Granny Smith apples.  The mustard dressing, crisp apples, walnuts and blue cheese were the perfect compliment to the pork chop.

Here's what you'll need:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 pinch salt
1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
5 ounces spinach leaves (1 container)

Makes about 4 servings.

Two apples are shown, but you'll only need one apple!
Here's what to do:
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt.

Add in apples and onions.  Let them marinate for about 20 minutes in dressing.

Add in spinach leaves, blue cheese crumbles, and walnuts.  Toss together.

This salad was so good!  The dressing was perfect and just the right amount.  It would be great with grilled chicken too.  You could substitute pecans for walnuts.  I loved it and so did my husband.  Enjoy!