Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Second Writing Lesson...more laughs, more samples.

Killer Blobs



The sea wasp is the most venomous jelly fish whose poisoning ability is greater than any snake. Sea wasps search for their food, which is shrimp, near the beach. The creatures are so deadly that when a person is stung they have only seconds to stagger to shore before they drop down dead. They are mostly transparent so they are hard to see. You will not find sea wasps in the oceans of the U.S. or Europe because they are only in Australia's ocean. This blob uses neurotoxin to kill at least 50 people. They are sometimes called the most deadly creatures on earth. These blobs are killing machines.

The Neurotoxic Blob



The sea wasp is the most venomous jellyfish alive, which has a poisoning ability greater than any snake. They search for shrimp along the shore near swimmers, who if stung by this deadly venom will stagger only long enough to get to shore before they die. They are almost transparent so they are very hard to see. In the oceans of America and Europe you will not find them for they are only in the waters near Australia. This blob of neurotoxin which can kill over fifty people is the deadliest creature alive. No one should want to meet a sea wasp.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Raisin Bran Muffins

These were so yummy!  All the kids loved them, except the one who wouldn't try them becuase they had Raisins!

Hey What's For Dinner

Raisin Bran Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup demerara, turbinado or sugar
  • 3 cups Kellogg's Raisin Bran® cereal
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or shortening
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.  Measure KELLOGG'S Raisin Bran and milk into mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg and vegetable oil. Beat well.  Add flour mixture to cereal mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Writing Samples.....Institute For Excellence in Writing

This year we finally bit the bullet and bought the Institutes For Excellence in Writing.  I have started watching the videos, but learned that you could begin the program after watching the first video.  Mr. Pudewa is so funny.  I found myself laughing often while watching him.  He is even funnier during the kids seminars and all three kids were cracking up.  Nothing wrong with learning being fun sometimes.  On Friday afternoon, while the Wild Child took her nap, we finally took the plunge and got busy. We all watched and the big girls did the workshop for 4th through 7th grade.  They LOVED it.  We haven't done any formal writing program, just what has been required in the Abeka Grammar books so I wasn't sure how it would go.  I am pleasantly surprised by the results and the best part was how much they enjoyed it. 

Insect Waltzers



Dance Flies are found in North America. They gather in big mating swarms above forest streams. They gracefully twirl up and down. Another thing that is amazing about these flies is that they give courting gifts. To attract females, male flies capture small insects which are presents. The presents can get pretty fancy. In the Northwest males spin a balloon of silk because they have to tuck a small insect inside. If you ever see a swarm of Dance Flies think of it like a bunch of weddings in one. The balloons of silk are like boxes of rings and there is a lot of dancing.

Meat Mushifiers


In the forests of Central and South America scientists discovered a deadly bee. This bee is called the vulture bee. They do not feast on pollen or nectar which means they consume the flesh of dead creatures. When they find a rotting carcass they spit out a chemical called enzyme which melts it into a gooey mush. This mush quickly goes into their stomach that is special for storing the mushified meat. Vulture bees are the world's best garbage men.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Perfect Dinner Roll

I have now perfected my dinner rolls.  There is really nothing else to say about it.  Why would you mess with perfection?  The secret is the pan...the cast iron skillet.  My trusty, rusty friend.

Perfect Dinner Rolls
  • 1-1/2 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. demerara (turbinado) or white sugar
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • Nonstick spray

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let yeast proof for 5 minutes.  Add flour and salt.  With your dough hook knead for 5 minutes, adding flour or water as needed to get a soft, not sticky, pull away from the sides of the bowl kinda dough. After kneading, shape into a ball and let rise in mixing bowl, covered, for 45 minutes or until doubled. Once doubled, divide into 12 pieces and shape into 12 balls like I did here.  Spray cast iron skillet with nonstick spray.  My skillet is big, 11-3/4 inches, so 12 rolls fit nicely. Let rise in skillet for 30 to 45 minutes, until doubled again. Bake in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Last night I served the rolls with chicken and barley soup.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chicken and Feta Orzo

Pour one pound of orzo into a 3 quart casserole.  Zest and juice one lemon.  Pour juice over dried orzo and put zest in with broth.

Cut two large chicken breasts into bite size pieces and place on top of dry orzo.  Meanwhile boil the broth with butter, water, salt, pepper and lemon zest.

Pour boiling broth over dry orzo and chicken. Sprinkle feta cheese over the top and if using dill sprinkle it over the top now too.

This is a simple and yummy casserole.  It is even kinda fancy if you use the dill.  The original recipe is from Everyday Food.  I haven't changed it much.  I didn't use the dill (which is really delicious on this dish) for two reasons: 1) The children will complain. 2) I didn't have any, nor did I want to go to the store, nor did I want to hear the children complain.  This casserole is easy to throw together and you just need to add something green on the side to complete you meal.

Chicken Orzo with Feta, Lemon and Dill

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I use 4 c. water with 1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon chicken flavor)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 1/4 t. coarse salt
  • 1/4 t. ground pepper
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 2 cups crumbled feta (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh dill (this can be optional, but shouldn't be)
  • 2 t. finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, bring broth, 3/4 cup water, butter, lemon zest, salt, and pepper to a boil. In a 3-quart baking dish layer the orzo, sprinkle with juice of one lemon and top with chicken pieces. Pour boiling broth mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle feta and dill over the top. Bake until orzo is tender and cooking liquid is creamy, 40 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

This post is linked with Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cheese and Sausage Corn Muffins

These are so yummy and fill the kids right up! These are good served along with some scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, or just by themselves. The original recipe "For the Love of Cheesy Sausage Corn Muffins" can be found at Chickens in the Road.

Cheese and Sausage Corn Muffins 

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 lb. cooked sausage
  • 1 cup cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Fry sausage. Once it is cooked and finely crumbled, drain on paper towel. Set aside. Combine dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs and buttermilk. Stir to combine, but don't over stir. Add sausage and cheese and stir lightly. Prepare your muffin pan. I spray mine, but you can use whatever method you like. The muffin cups will be pretty full..almost to the top. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not overbake or they will be dry. Store your leftovers, if there are any, in the fridge and reheat in the microwave.

This post is linked with Tasty Tuesday.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake

This is awesome.  This is for true chocolate lovers.  I have been wanting to try this recipe since I saw them make it on America's Test Kitchen.  The only thing that had been holding me back was my lack of a spring form pan.  I guess the kids were hinting at me making this cake since they got me a spring form pan for my birthday! This is not for the weak...this recipe takes work.  You can see exactly how they did it on Test Kitchen here.

We are now drunk on chocolate.

The recipe can be found here or here:

This post is linked with Meatless Monday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Peach Harvest

Early this year we planted a peach tree.  It bloomed beautifully.  There were about 50 little peaches.  Then I read up on peach trees and removed about half the peaches.  It still seemed like we would get a pretty good harvest the first year from our tiny tree.  Drum Roll please......

There were FIVE.  Two got eaten before I could take a picture.

For a better perspective on how giant my peaches are, I have placed a DIME on top of one.

The hand of my SEVEN year old.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homemade Tortillas

After mixing the flour, baking powder and salt, cut in the shortening/lard until small crumbles form.
After the dough has rested for an hour, form into 12 equal size balls and let rest again, covered with a tea towel, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into a thin circle (which is not easy!)   Mine usually are shaped more rectangular.
 Carefully remove tortilla from rolling surface and place in a hot cast iron skillet.  These cook quite fast, so be careful and don't get too distracted rolling out your next tortilla.  Once you remove from pan, place in a tea towel to keep warm.
I made big pot o' pinto beans and we topped that off with cheese, lettuce and salsa.

Flour Tortillas
  • 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. plus 2 T. lard or Crisco
  • 1 c. hot water (not boiling, but very hot tap water works)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large. Stir together. Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Flour a board and lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, until it become a nice smooth and not too sticky texture. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour. Roll into 12 equal size balls, place on a tray, cover with a tea towel, and let rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.  When you’re ready to make the tortillas, heat a cast iron griddle to medium/medium-high heat. One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas in a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately.  Once again, there are 6 of us and there has yet to be a leftover tortilla....but I am sure they would be good reheated.

This post is linked with Tasty Tuesday.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Honey Wheat Bagels

Making bagels is easy!  Yesterday I made these honey wheat bagels and they were tasty.  We had them before church this  morning with cheesy scrambled eggs nestled in the middle.  Bagelwich!  You can see more photos on bagel making here.

Honey Wheat Bagels
  • 1-1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 t. yeast
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. quick cooking oats
  • 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 c. white flour
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine water and honey. Sprinkle yeast on top and let proof for 5 minutes.  Add oats, flours, salt and vegetable oil. Knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook, adding more water or flour, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Shape into a ball, cover and let rise until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes. Once doubled divided into 9 equal pieces and shape into balls, pulling the dough under so that you have a smooth ball.  Let balls rest for 10 minutes. Poke hole in the middle of dough ball and pull out from the middle to form a bagel/doughnut shape.  Let rise on greased cookies sheets for 45 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil with 2 tablespoons sugar.  When ready to boil, gently remove the bagels from the cookie sheet being careful not to deflate and boil for 1 minute on each side. Remove to wire rack to drain. Return to greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

Another great recipe from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  I have always wondered about making mashed potatoes while at church....I've got the roast part down.  I use my oven timer to have my roast ready, but always dreaded coming home and making mashed potatoes.  You can't really have pot roast without mashed potatoes.  When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.  It was so easy!  You do it all in one pot.  No draining the potatoes. A perfect way to have mashed potatoes and not have to be home the hour before you want to eat them.

Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 lbs. potatoes
  • 1 cup water and 1 t. Better than Bouillon (or 1 can chicken broth) 
  • 1 cup milk  
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Place potatoes in a crock pot with chicken broth and milk. Cook on low for 4 hours or until potatoes are tender. (I cooked mine on low for 2 hours and was getting nervous that they would not be done at the same time as my roast so I cranked it up to high for the last 1-1/2 hours...I started a little late.) When potatoes are tender mash well with sour cream and cream cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste. (I have changed this slightly from the original can click the link to see exactly how it was done by Lynn.)

This stuff is tasty!  I use both the chicken and the beef.  I find big jars at my local Costco for a reasonable price.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks....Vacation!

There are many great things about homeschooling.  One of my favorites is taking vacations after everyone else has gone back to school.  We just spent four days in Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.  Our base was a cabin at Hume Lake

This is the view from the top of Moro Rock. I nearly died, but I did make it to the top. Taking a quarter-mile trail to this national park’s Moro Rock site, you climb nearly 400 stone steps to the top of the barren rock (6,725-foot elevation).

We stopped here for a picnic but decided against it...

The tree in the center of the photo is the The General Sherman tree. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world.

Happy cows!  What a beautiful view they have.

This is a view from the road heading down to Cedar Grove.  Cedar Grove is located in the deepest canyon in the United States. 

 We got to visit Boyden Cavern. 

A glimpse inside the cavern.

The Kings River runs along the bottom of the canyon.

All this right in our back yard.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Garlic Skillet Rolls

These were awesome.  Rowdy declares them the best rolls ever (well at least from my kitchen.)   If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you really should get one. 

Divide dough into 12 pieces.

Here they are after rising a bit.  Almost ready for the garlic butter.


Here they are in the oven...

Garlic Skillet Rolls
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 1/4 c. sugar (I use the raw cane stuff)
  • 1-1/2 c. water
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
Combine yeast, water and sugar in bowl of stand mixer.  Let proof for 5 minutes. Add flour and salt. With dough hook, knead for 5 minutes, adding a little more water or flour as needed.  The dough should pull away from the sides and the bowl should look clean. Shape into a ball and let rise in mixing bowl for 45 minutes or until doubled. Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Shape each piece in a ball and place in cast iron pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  I have a big cast iron pan so my pan fit all 12 rolls.  You may have to use 2 pans if yours is smaller than 11-3/4 inches. Let rise until doubled and touching. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Once rolls have doubled, melt butter and mix with garlic. Brush on rolls, being careful not to deflate the rolls.  I use a spoon at the end to evenly distribute the garlic pieces. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and serve immediately.  I am not sure how these would taste if made ahead...they do get devoured quickly and there are never any left to try at room temperature!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Upside Down Apple Cake

Today we have been married 14 years.  Today I made Upside Down Apple Cake.

Butter makes the world go round.

This cake is beautiful.

Oh manzo.

The Pioneer Woman has yet to let me down.  This is the best cake ever!  You can cook it in any oven proof skillet, but cast iron is superior. 

  • 5 whole Granny Smith apples, peeled, corned and cut into six equal pieces
  • 1-3/4 sticks butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 whole small Granny Smith apple, peeled, corned and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9 to 10-inch skillet (my skillet says 11-3/4 inch on bottom and it worked great!), melt 1-3/4 sticks butter over low heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar to the pan and stir around, then place apple slices, wedge side down, in the pan. Don’t pack them too tightly, but try not to leave overly large gaps. Allow this to cook over low/medium-low heat while you make the cake batter, about 15 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1 stick of butter and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in 1 chopped apple.

Remove skillet from heat. Spoon batter over the top, then spread gently so batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and bubbly. Allow cake to sit in skillet for five minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Oatmeal Pancakes

For some reason I feel like the recipe I am making is healthier if it has oatmeal in it.  Not sure why, but here are some tasty pancakes with oatmeal.

Hot off the griddle.  Just a little tip for cutting pancakes, sandwiches, ect....use a pizza cutter. 

  • 1 c. of all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. of quick cooking oats
  • 1-1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 4 T. butter, softened or melted
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
Beat all ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk until smooth. Grease a heated griddle, if necessary, with shortening, using a pastry brush. A cast iron pan really makes the best pancakes, but I often use my electric griddle to make more at one time to keep the animals at bay. To see if griddle is hot enough, sprinkle with a few drops of water. If bubbles skitter around, heat is just right. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until pancakes are puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other sides until golden brown. Serve with applesauce or syrup. Makes 15 pancakes.


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