Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silence is Golden

(Check out updated videos and photos in previous posts!).

My co-teacher and I stood in awe as we watched 15 students work in groups solving multi-step equations quickly, efficiently, and without distraction. At one point the room was completely silent as they all worked on the problem set. It was a truly gratifying moment to see that these students, who do not necessarily like math or think they are good at math, could be so focused on a task because they knew that they could do it. I've had quiet and focused classes. However with the lower levels it seems that there always has to be at least one kid who puts a wrench in the whole process. It was one of those moments that we just looked at each other and smiled...this is why we wanted to teach.

This weekend I was baking up a storm. My husband requested biscotti and granola. And I wanted to give a thank you gift of "Kate's Vegan Ginger Cookies" to my co-workers who have helped me out so much so far.

Almond Biscotti
Oven: 300
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tbs rum
2 tsp. almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup almonds chopped

Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Whisk the eggs, almond extract,rum, and vanilla extracts in your mixer until well blended.

Add the dry ingredients and almonds and mix until combined. Dough should be thick and sticky at this point--do not worry, and DO NOT add more flour! Scrape the dough out onto sheet pan. Flour your hands or a spatula and shape into a long flat loaf about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. This will be kind of messy, so don't worry about how neat it is, just try to get it in that general shape.

Bake until firm and dry, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes.

Use a long serrated knife and slice into 1/2-inch wide slices. Lay the slices cut side down on the baking sheet and bake another 20 minutes.

Turn the slices over and bake 20 minutes more, or until the cookies are a light golden brown. Cool the biscotti on a rack; cool completely before storing. You can serve with coffee or coffee ice cream!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Good Hunk

This week has been a bit busy! I started my master's classes, had our first faculty meeting, and had back to school night. Everything went well but I was so ready for the weekend. We went for a late breakfast with my sister Audrey, she's a sophomore in college, and on the way home my husband's car stopped working. Long story short, an hour and a half later we were riding in a tow truck home. Never a dull moment!

Chunky Cookies

These cookies were requested by a co-worker of my husband. They remind me of the Chunky candy bar. The only difference is these have walnuts, instead of peanuts.

Oven 325
Makes 1 dozen cookies
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup raisins

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter.

Heat for 1 minute at full power, stir and continue to heat at 20 second intervals, stirring between each until chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the egg, vanilla, and sugar in another bowl. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt; whisk into the batter until blended.

Fold in the nuts, raisins, and remaining chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray. Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of dough and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake until slightly puffed and just set, 14 minutes. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack to cool. Cookies will firm up as they cool.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Is it Fall yet?

I've been thinking about pumpkin pie spice, carrot cake, apple picking, and pumpkin carving...I love fall. I decided to bake up some Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies today, while my husband attempts to coach Notre Dame through the television. For those of you who actually read the blog, I'm beginning to think only 3 of you, enjoy the pics!

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Oven: 350
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup honey

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Set aside. In an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together egg, vanilla, sugars, and butter. Mix in carrots and raisins (if using) at low speed. Add the flour mixture and blend until just combined.

Chill dough in freezer for 15 minutes. If you do not have silpat mats for your cookie sheet, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Using a medium scoop (about 2 tablespoons) place dough on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for about 11 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit 1 minute on sheet before transferring to wax paper lined cooling racks. Let cool completely.

Blend cream cheese and honey in medium bowl. You can also add ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon to this frosting. If you prefer something sweeter, try adding some powdered sugar.

Once cooled, sandwich together the carrot cake "cookies" with about 1 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese. This recipe made 9 whoopie pies. Enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

"You Don't Act Like a New Teacher..."

This quote above was quite possibly the best compliment of the week from a student. I made it through my first week at New School and I feel like I've gotten back on the bike. The first week of all orientation was okay, but being in the classroom actually teaching feels great! I feel so refreshed and stress free. Everyone is so nice (the faculty and staff really socialize and are genuinely interested in getting to know you) and the school is beautiful.

We had a half day today, since Hurricane Earl was threatening to show up. However, we have yet to see anything but some rain. I can't complain though, a half day still no makeups!

Also, I finally think I have the New School block schedule down. Between the even and odd days, the 8 day rotation, and 8 day duty rotation, it's a lot to remember. And I've been using the Smart Board every class. I absolutely love it! There's so much you can do with it. Plus, the students are very familiar with it since they have them in the elementary and middle schools.

Welcome Wagon Wheel Pasta
Oven 400

16 ounces wagon wheel macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
6 slices bacon
1 cup chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil pasta, uncovered, for about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Remove from heat, drain the pasta, and then return the pasta to the pot. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Add the onion and sauté until soft and lightly brown, about 3 minutes; remove from heat, and add the onion to the pasta. Cook bacon strips in the same skillet until crisp, set on a paper towel to drain. Once cool, crumble into small pieces, and add to the pasta. Add the chicken broth, peas, ricotta cheese, egg, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to the pasta, and stir to combine. Transfer pasta to a 7x11 casserole dish. Sprinkle Fontina cheese and bread crumbs on top and bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the bread crumbs have turned a golden brown.