Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin-Spice-Chip Cookies

This week's post involves my very helpful younger son, he did all the cooking while I did most of the photography! 

I was gone all day Saturday at a professional development thing, so Sunday afternoon was my only time to do 6-people-worth of laundry, clean a couple of very nasty and long neglected bathrooms, grade a dozen Alg 2 tests, find a you tube video that best and most efficiently introduces optimization with linear programming, pay some bills, do 5 short (HA! yeah right) surveys for the previously mentioned professional development, and prepare for what will be another busy week of Daly life.  But busy is the way I like it!!!

Anyway, I also needed to make some sweets (because that's the way we roll,) and a dish to pass for a leader's meeting for 4-H that I have to attend on Monday.  And this is what the chef-in-training and I whipped up:

Obviously, the only ingredients are 2 boxes of Spice Cake mix, 1 29 oz. can of pumpkin, and a bag of white chips.  Stir in a large bowl, drop by rounded spoonful on a cookie sheet, and cook for 13 minutes. 

I doubled the recipe because I wanted enough for us to enjoy for a few days, as well as 1-2 dozen to take to Monday's pot-luck leader's meeting.  Doubling it gave me 6 dozen. 

We also figured the caloric value of each cookie -- because I'm a math-teacher-mom (very unlucky combination for a 4th grader...) -- and each cookie is only 74 calories! 

In other news, I broke down and bought myself some reading glasses at WallyWorld Saturday.  If I knew a year ago how much more enjoyable my paper-grading, book-reading, computer-surfing world would be if I had reading glasses, I would have bought these puppies a long time ago.

Have a great week, everyone!!!  Seriously, try this recipe.  These cookies are DELICIOUS!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Graphic Novels...

This week is reading group! And the end of another lightening-fast month of Daly life...  My reading group and I are reading a very interesting non-fiction book about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Moby Duck: The true story of 28,800 bath toys that were lost at sea. But, more on that story another time.

This week's post is about another type of book the Daly family likes to read: graphic novels! I was so excited when our oldest son came home from school last Friday with a 'weekend read'. He had snagged Smile, by Raina Telgemeier from the middle school library.
This is the fictional story of an 11 year old girl who accidently knocks her two front teeth out and her journey to get her smile restored.  The librarian told him it was a hot-borrow, so he'd better get it while the getting was good. Of course, like me, when he has a good book  he stays up til all hours of the night reading and can't think about much else other than getting his nose back in the book.

One of my all time favorite reading group selections was Blankets, by Craig Thompson. This graphic novel was about the author's teenage years, his first love, and some experiences at church camp (where he meets his first love) that shaped his now-adult views toward organized religion. I thought the illustrations (comics) were amazing. I'd recommend it to anyone who has never read a graphic novel because the pictures are great and the story is very entertaining.
Another one of my favorites in the graphic novel genre is the Maus series: Maus: My father bleeds history. This was a story of the holocaust from a cat and mouse point of view (the Nazis were the cats and the Jews were the mice). Even though the illustrations were of these cats and mice, they were haunting and stuck with me long after I was done reading. The story was very touching and envoked a great sense of sadness for the Jewish survivors because even though they did survive, they could never forget the horrors they experienced and could never truly enjoy life. These books were very good. I'd recommend them to a mature reader.

I get to choose November's book, and I think I'll choose Persepolis: The story of a childhood, by Marjane Satrapi.
This is author's story of her life growing up (ages 6 to 14) in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. This book takes place in the 1980's and 1990's in Tehran. Hopefully we will all be able to get a copy; we borrow our books through inter-library loan, so sometimes books aren't available, sometimes they don't arrive on time, and sometimes crazy life gets in the way and the books just never get read...

What are you reading right now?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Adventures of Spot

Saturday afternoon I ran into town to run a couple of errands.  As I was pulling into our driveway, I looked over to our neighbor's house and she was standing in her driveway with her son, watching her little Beagle playing with this big white ball.  It would hop toward her dog and the dog would back up, then the dog would lunge at the big white ball and the ball would take a few steps to the side... the dog and this mystery thing seemed to be playing chicken.  Then it dawned on me!  That big white ball is my beloved RABBIT!!! I literally screeched to a halt in the middle of the driveway, got out of the van and ran over to the neighbor's house still rubbing my eyes in disbelief (figuratively speaking).  Sure enough, Spot and Molly the miniture Beagle were having a fun little go of it.  As I said, "Spot!  What are you doing out of your hutch!?!?  You crazy little bunny boy, you could've been eaten alive!" he came hopping over to me and nearly jumped in my arms (literally speaking this time, he and I are very close.)  So, I scooped him up, apologized to the neighbor, and hauled his furry little hiney back to our yard. 

The girls thought it was the funniest thing they'd seen in a long time.  They wanted to keep him out in the yard and "play" with him for a while.  And so we did. 

Spot apparently loves to jump in the leaf pile. 

Spot really loves riding in the cozy coupe.  (By the way, that thing is like a bad penny.  It's way too small for our kids, but keeps showing up, no matter where I hide it in the trees behind our house.) 

But what Spot loves most is snuggowing wiff his mommy...

 Isn't this the cutest little bunny face you've ever seen?!?!?!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

A friend of mine, Beth, and I were swapping Crock Pot recipes at the fair back in August, and she told me that she puts her Crock Pot to work making spaghetti sauce while she spends the day teaching 5th grade.  When she comes home, she'll make spaghetti for supper, whip up a quick lasagna for another day, and then freeze the left-over sauce for a couple more meals!   Her Crock Pot is nice enough to make her not 1, but 4 meals while she's away for the day!  How nice is that?!?!?! 

I tried it out last weekend, and sure enough, Beth's onto something!  I started off by frying up 2 pounds of hamburger with 1 onion (sliced into rings for easy picking-out by the kids who aren't huge onion fans), then I dumped into the Crock Pot: 3 (28 oz.) cans of tomato sauce, 1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, 3 cloves of minced garlic, the meat mixture (drained, of course) and some other random spices I had in the cupboard (I used bay leaf and oregano).  I turned it on high and let it simmer all afternoon (about 4 hours).  Beth lets hers cook on low for 8-10 hours.  The house smelled delicious all afternoon and supper was a snap! 

Before supper while I was cooking the spaghetti, I made a lasagna, (I never cook lasagna noodles, by the way,) and stuck that in the freezer for next week (Homecoming week!!!) .  I ended up with 2 quart-sized jars of left-over sauce.  A quart will go toward a big pot of spaghetti later this fall or this winter, and the other jar (which wasn't complete full) will be perfect for over top of ravioli. 

I found that the sauce was a little more runny than I'm used to, but Dave said that that's the way he prefers it, and I think that this will definitely benefit my lasagna which tends to be a little dry, anyway.  All in all, this was a huge hit!  Like Beth said, this is also very economical!  In fact, our local grocery store has canned tomatoes of all sorts on sale this week for $0.89.  Aside from the meat and seasonings cost, I think this is WAY cheaper and WAY more delicious than store bought sauces!!!
Thanks again, Beth!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Rainbow Chicken

When we were at the fair in August, the girls and I took a walk over to the rabbit and poulty exhibit barn. We stumbled upon this glorious creature:
I was AMAZED by this chicken. The owner said she had taken the same dye that you'd use on a dog and colored the chicken's feathers. Notice the dyed egg in the picture, it was dyed in that glittery, sparkly Easter egg dye. The whole cage seemed to glow. If I could have a whole flock of these rainbow chickens that actually laid sparkly rainbow eggs, I'd quit my teaching job, force Dave and Dad to sell the cattle, and we'd turn our beef farm into a chicken farm faster than you can say "cock-a-doodle-doo." End of Story. Want me to tell it again?