Monday, March 19, 2012

Tot School - Letter K & Bug Theme

Munchin is 37m
Little Bear is 18m

We didn't do much with tot school last week so we extended out letter K week and we are still doing a bug theme.  We did have some fun with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  After reading the story 50 million times (well it seemed like that many). We made caterpillar fruit salad, which does sound gross, but it was pretty good.  We started with strawberries, pears, and mandarin oranges, I didn't have plums in the house so those were left out.  We used a straw to poke "caterpillar" holes and mixed it together.  Munchkin loved it!

We used an egg tray, number cube, and some dollar store plastic bugs to practice our counting.  Munchkin was not interested in this at all.  He (obviously) preferred to just play with the bugs.  It's funny, I feel like I'm learning to teach all over again.  In my class I'd always give my kiddos explore time when we used manipulatives. This way when it was time to use them in the way I intended they'd already gotten to "play" with the manipulatives.  I have forgtten this with Munchkin.  I have twice now takin out something new and immediately tried to get him to follow my lead and use them in a particular way.  I won't make this mistake again.

Munchkin continues to love the bug sensory bin... and he is still very partial to rainbow rice.  A few spoons and old measuring cups will keep him quiet for at least a 1/2 hour.

One of Little Bear's favorite things to do is push small things into small holes.  Here he using colored transportation counters.  I wish I had some bug counters.

We also tried color sorting for the first time.  He watched me closely as I put the pieces in the matching colored section.  Then he dumped them out and added them where ever he liked.

Munchkin used a gel bag this week to trace the letter K.  Each day he humored me and traced a K once (I'll take it!!) then would squish it, squeeze it, and hold it up to face and look through the blue gel.  

We used playdough on a K printable from 1+1+1=1.  Munchkin enjoyed poking his fingers in it.

We also used blocks to build a castle for a king.  He loved this.

We worked on a few printables from different websites.  Don't mind the hearts... these are forgotten Valentine Decorations.  The letter cards in the pocket chart are from 1+1+1=1. There are great printables on this site.  I printed the Color Bug emergent reader from Prekinders.  Munchkin feels so proud when he "reads" this book.  I also printed the beginning sound matching page from here.  The letter K mini-book is from here.

Check out more Tot School Posts here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Five: Leftover Roast Chicken

Sheeesh it's been quite some time since I posted a Friday Five.  Hopefully this one does not disappoint.  I make a roast chicken almost every week, and we ALWAYS have leftovers.  My husband prefers the legs and wings, the boys and I eat the thighs.  We always have the entire breasts leftover (and sometimes more). So here's my Friday Five things to do with leftover roasted chicken.

1. Chicken Stock.  I haven't bought chicken stock since Thanksgiving (when gallons and gallons are required).  What I do is cut off all the usable meat (white and dark) and store it in a freezer bag.  Then I take everything leftover, this includes bones, onions, herbs, and anything else I roast with it.  Throw everything in a crock pot.  Just cover with water and cook for 12 hours.

 Let it cool, poor through a strainer.  I used to freeze it in ice cube trays, but I use it so often I just keep in quart containers in the fridge now.

2. This is perhaps the most obvious... Chicken Salad!  Now sure, you could just chop it up and mix in some mayo, but why stop there?  How about adding some toasted chopped pecans or walnuts, sliced grapes, a bit of chopped onion and some garlic powder.  YUM!

3.  Chicken Quesadillas.  This is my favorite thing to use leftover chicken for.  Shred or cut your chicken into small cubes.   Saute' some onions in a skillet until caramel in color and add your chicken with about a cup of salsa (add more or less depending on how much chicken you have).  You could also use taco seasoning and water instead, but we rarely have that on hand.  I also like to add cumin and extra garlic powder.  Add your filling to tortillas and sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese, fold over.  You can finish them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or in another skillet with a bit of butter or olive oil.  Serve with sour cream, sliced avocados, and more salsa.  Sometimes I add black beans or corn to them as well.

4.   Chicken Tacos.  Make the same filling as you would for quesadillas.  Add to taco shells with your favorite taco toppings.  We usually skip this meal because Munchkin only eats the taco shell (which he calls chips).

5.  Chicken Shepard's Pie.  This is a new recipe I just came up with.  My husband and I thought it was great, Munchkin not so much... but he doesn't even like chicken nugget these days.  Anyway, saute' a cup each of carrots (I really can't stand peas so I never add them) and onions until soft. Add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook until it's all soft, then add your chicken (about 2 cups).  In a small bowl I crushed 3 beef bouillon cubes, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, and a teaspoon of black pepper.  I added this to the chicken with about a half cup of water (or chicken stock if you have any).

In the mean time make your favorite mashed potato recipe.  Add your chicken to a square baking dish and top with your potatoes.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

 I didn't get a picture of it straight out of the oven.   It was more brown than I meant but it was still very good

Hope you enjoyed this Friday Five.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Tot School

Munchkin is 36.5m
Little Bear is 17.5

When I was a classroom teacher, I loved Dr. Seuss week.  My team would go crazy.  One year a co-worker and I decided to have the kids make the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (between our two classes)... LOL the kids got bored of coloring and cutting out little hats before we finished and we ended up cutting and coloring most of them.

As March approached I knew I wanted to include Dr. Seuss in our Tot School for the week.  I've been trying out a new schedule for our Tot School.  In the morning we focus on a letter of the week and tot trays.  After lunch we focus on some type of theme and I've been tying in different books.   This ended up working perfectly.  I find when I try to do Tot School all morning, Munchkin looses interest and starts to act out.  Breaking the day up has worked out great... so I think I will continue this way.

On with our week.  In the AM we did letter J.  We start with a mini-book and then some type of letter craft or printable (maybe both if he's up to it).  Then we do some tot trays or intentional play.  

I've been doing capital and lowercase letter crafts for a few months now.  I get great ideas for letter crafts at No Time for Flash Cards, the printable he's working on is from Confessions Of A Homeschooler.

J is for Jewels, we also did j is for jaguar.
He loved playing with the discovery bottles, I can't wait to make more.

He discovered that not only did they roll across the floor, but he could spin them... so he spent most of the time spinning them on his table.

Little Bear loves to scribble with markers, oddly enough he's not really into coloring with crayons though.  I think I'm going to get him those crayola little scribblers and see if he likes those.  Little Bear is still not talking much (his favorite word is still mama).  I'd be lying if I said I'm not starting to get a little concerned.  Hoping one day he'll surprise me with a complete sentence.

Dr. Seuss Week Activities!

We used tissue paper to make a Dr. Seuss hat.  My son is super literal and when I asked him what color the cat's hat was he proudly informed me "Wed, white, and bwack".  I helped him add the tissue paper to the hat in the correct spaces...

 ...then I gave him a blank paper to go crazy with.  He loved it.

I made green eggs with craft foam and had him serve the onto the corresponding plate.  He had fun doing this over and over again, he'd just empty the plates and put them right back on.  After a while he wasn't interested in matching the upper and lowercase letters.. which is fine.

The boys also enjoyed making party hats for Dr. Seuss's birthday party.

Munchkin really got his hands into it!

LB did his first dot painting this week and he loves it.  I don't know why I haven't given them to him sooner.

Once he was done painting I let him use the caps to stack.

I made hats for mommy and daddy to wear also... my husband and I proudly wore our hats during our Dr. Seuss party... I'll spare you the pictures.

Dr. Seuss Snacks

When I was little, and even as a classroom teacher I thought it was so fun to feast on green eggs and ham.  Unfortunately my picky eaters won't touch eggs (even when they're yellow), So I figured I wouldn't waste my eggs on this.  Instead I decided to get a little creative.  

Green Sam Juice.  Simply a banana,1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup regular milk, and 1/2 cup pineapple juice blended with ice, all dyed green... because Munchkin will drink anything from the blender (thank you Fresh Beat Band and the Groovy Smoothie).

I saw something similar to this with white chocolate covered Oreos and red chocolate dipped marshmallows.  I was tempted, but Munchkin (and everyone one else that came to his party) is still coming down off the sugar high from the candy bar.  This is my attempt to go a tad bit healthier.  Strawberries, bananas, and vanilla Oreos.

He would have eaten them all if I'd let him.

For dinner on Friday we had Cat in the Hat pizza.  This was cute and easy to make.  Munchkin, and my hubs got a kick out of this.

After dinner we had ice cream cake (at the hubs request) and sang happy birthday to Dr. Seuss.  It was awesome.  I really hope to give the boys great childhood memories, something I truly treasure and am thankful for.

Check out more tot school post at 1+1+1=1.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

As promised... (and kind of late) I am posting the recipe I used for Munchkin's Birthday Cake.  It took a while for me to decide on it.  I've actually never been a huge fan of chocolate (except for brownies... love some brownies) but the Munchkin definitely is into chocolate.  After I decided on chocolate cake I had to scour the web for recipes.  I can create recipes and throw things together when it comes time to cook... but baking is another story.  Anyway I stumbled upon one that I'd actually seen before. Does anyone else watch Barefoot Contessa?  I do when I get a chance.  I remember watching her make this chocolate cake and it made my mouth water even as a non-chocoholic.  So here it is... 

Beatty's Chocolate Cake


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup veggie oil 
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (all I had was instant... and the cake still came out great!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.  I actually used two 6-inch pans, and used the left over to make cup cakes.  Just remember to bake seperately because they have different baking times.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.  This recipe is courtessy of  Love them just search for 5 star recipes.. you can't go wrong.
I had a lot to do on the days prior to the party so I actually mixed all my dry ingredients before hand.  I stored 2 batches in seperate freezer bags in my pantry.  I wanted the cakes to be fresh, so the day before I added my wet ingredients and baked away.  It was eazy peazy almost like using boxed cake mix... just 100 times better.

After finding the perfect cake I had to find a good frosting to compliment it.  Now, I love me some cream cheese frosting but I wanted to try something new.  Enter white chocolate buttercream!!!  When searching for a frosting recipe I look for recipes that DO NOT include shortening.  I think it leaves a greasy feeling on my tongue, the main reason I don't like canned frosting.  Anyway... I found this recipe for Whipped White Chocolate Buttercream at Comfortably Domestic.  You need to visit her... 1. because her pictures will make you want to dive head first into the frosting and have your way with it, 2. the frosting came out perfectly delisious.

To decorate I just added food coloring.  I also crumbled animal crackers for the sand (I didn't have any graham crackers and we've been working on a gigantic wholesale tub of them for way too long).  To make the black and white checkered pattern I used black edible paper cut into 1 inch squares.  I found it at Walmart... don't remember how much.  

So there you have it.  I will definately make this cake again.. it recieved rave reviews from all that tasted it!