Sunday, January 30, 2011

No Calculator Needed

Despite the many snow days we've been having, midterm exams have come and gone! I found myself having a bit of a pity party after grading some of them. I know the failures do not indicate a direct failure on my part, but I still can't seem to shake that it does. Many were good, and I need to focus on those. It's the failures that make me consider how much is my fault and how much is the student's fault.
Sometimes I feel that I care so much more then the student does. It's hard to understand those that lack initiative to do anything. Why are you here? What are your goals? Is there a reason that  you sit in that seat and blatantly refuse to even lift a pencil? I don't even care if you like math, it's not about that. I care that you are learning general problem solving skills, communication skills, reading skills, and life skills.
If you show up to your job late every day, or walk out every time you have an issue, or decide to not do any work, or threaten to slap your boss, or use the excuse that you were never taught that ( which you 99% of the time were) you keep your job? Are you going to be able to support yourself, your family, your "cool" lifestyle? When you get a bad tip from a disgruntled patron will you even know?  When the power goes out and you're ringing out a customer, will you be able to figure out how much change they are owed? When a recipe calls for 1/3 cup of something and you're doubling it, what do you do? When your 5 year old comes home with addition problem homework, will you need a calculator to help them?

Blackberry Custard Pie
Oven 350

1 (9 inch) pie shell, unbaked

2-3 cups blackberries (or any berry)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar

Place berries into the pie shell.

Beat the eggs, then add the sour cream, sugar, flour and vanilla.

Pour over the berries.

Combine the butter, sugar, and the flour to make a crumble topping. Sprinkle crumble onto the top of the pie.

Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monkeying Around

My sister had her baby shower, yesterday. She is due in February with my first nephew.The theme of the shower centered around monkeys. And, naturally I made chocolate covered bananas and monkey bread. I was also asked to make bruschetta for one of the many appetizers. After making everything, I had leftover banana, so I made banana muffins for a family dinner. The shower was a great success, plenty of food, and some really cute outfits and gifts.

Monkey Bread Muffins
Oven 350

2 cans of refrigerated biscuits

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 cup brown sugar

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Cut the biscuits into eights.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar; pour mixture into a gallon-size plastic bag. Add biscuit quarters, seal the bag, and shake until biscuit quarters are coated.

Place 6-8 pieces in each muffin cup.


Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small pot on the stove. Stir until melted and bubbly.

Pour the sauce over the muffins.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cool for a minute in pan before removing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cookie Monster

    We've started having more family dinners since we moved back so close to both of our families. I think it's important to realize that we're not going to all be together forever and we need to take advantage of this time. It can also be nice in this economy to share the cost of a big meal. Have some members being appetizers, someone brings dessert, someone is in charge of drinks, etc. And we've had a lot of different meals that are cost saving: homemade pasta and sauce, a gifted ham, breakfast for dinner, tacos/Mexican night, grilled homemade pizza, stew, etc. So you spend time with your family and save money on dinner!
   Today's meal is for my husband who has been so helpful and understanding. We're having homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. He loves chocolate chip cookies, a true cookie monster, so we're having this.....

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie
Oven 375

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Stir in morsels and nuts.

   Spread into prepared pan.

BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Cut into bars.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Honey, honey

    The first week back from a long vacation is always tough. You hear the alarm ringing and stare in disbelief at the numbers on the clock. Didn't I just lay down? You drag yourself around the house, in a zombie like state, following some brainwashed steps, to get yourself out of the house on time.
    When you get to work you remember everything you said you were going to do over break but didn't. I always say, "I'll correct these while watching TV one night." I never do, so I didn't bring them home this time. It's good to see everyone again but you can't help thinking, "I'd like to see my pillow more right now." The students think that I spent the entire week locked in my classroom, somehow living off the box of rice cakes in my desk drawer and the water for my plant. Why are they always so surprised that I don't live here?!?! And the only time they are interested in my vacation is when they are trying to distract me from the lesson. I'm in the middle of explaining the Pythagorean Theorem, going over what seems like the same problem for the 14th time, when a student asks what I got for Christmas. And while I'm flattered that they are "interested," I am also surprised that they think I can be so easily turned off track. Bring it on you tricky teenagers, just wait until we get to proofs!
My husband gave me two Disney recipe books for Christmas, and I wanted to try this recipe from the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort.

Honey Crunch Cake
Oven 375

Sponge Cake:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine milk and butter in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is completely melted. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In an electric mixer with a whip attachment, mix eggs.

Whip in milk and butter mixture, then gradually add flour mixture, mixing until smooth.
Pour batter into prepared 9-inch pans, dividing evenly. Bake 15 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Honey Crunch
3 tablespoons water
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, sifted

Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat. Insert a candy thermometer. When temperature reaches 310 degrees F, whisk in baking soda and turn off the heat. Let mixture rise, stirring to combine. Pour onto a silpat mat and let completely cool. When cool, break honey crunch into several large pieces and store in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze the bag to break candy into small pieces.

Honey Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons honey

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in honey. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Honey Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons

In an electric mixer with a whip attachment, combine heavy cream and confectioners' sugar. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes or until cream begins to thicken. Add honey and increase speed, whipping until medium soft peaks form.

To Serve:

Drizzle bottom layer of cake with simple syrup. Generously spread whipped cream on the bottom layer, the sprinkle with broken pieces of honey crunch. Spread a little more whipped cream over the honey crunch. Place the top layer on and drizzle with remaining simple syrup. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining whipped cream. Break and arrange remaining honey crunch on each piece. Best when served immediately.

**You will also need a very helpful dishwasher!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Happy New Year!

It's a fresh start, a chance for new perspectives. My hope this year is that I continue to be more positive and give more second chances, to recipes and people. I need to believe in change and not fear disappointment.

My husband and I enjoyed our week off together, it's been awhile since we had time off at the same time. We didn't travel anywhere, but we didn't need to. It was nice not having anywhere we needed to be, no crazy schedules.

I started using some of my new kitchen tools today. I LOVE my new glass KitchenAid mixing bowl, it's so nice!

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
from Bon Appétit April 2010
Oven: 350
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
Chopped chocolate (optional)

For cupcakes:
Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend.

Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth.

Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended.

Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

For frosting:
Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter.

Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally.

Sprinkle lightly with chopped chocolate, if desired.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.