Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chicken Azteca

This is one of my favorite things to leave in the crock pot. Unfortunately, I don't make it very often because it is fairly fattening. Now that I'm pregnant, I figure I need the calcium from the cream cheese.

Chicken Azteca
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp cumin
1 cup chunky salsa
5 chicken breasts, cubed
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese

Combine beans, corn, garlic, cumin, salsa, and chicken. Place in slow cooker. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Stir in cream cheese. Cook on high until cream cheese melts. Spoon chicken and sauce over rice. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stop Saying That, Please

This is not my normal post. It is very personal and will probably offend some people. 

Here is my complaint: I am sick and tired of people disrespecting each other’s positions and choices in the world. Whether you chose to be single, to live with a partner, to be married, to have a job, to stay home with your children, or to become a monk, I believe you are a human being worthy of respect. You should not be told that you are somehow less because of that choice.

I would very much like to make this a series and ask my friends who have other lifestyles to voice their own concerns and needs. (Why, if you are single, do people assume that means you don’t mind working overtime? Why, if you don’t have kids, do people assume your life is somehow incomplete?)  

With the arrival of Simon in our home, I was thrust into the role of working mother. I have been shocked to find out how incredibly unsupported and disrespected that position has been. I have seen countless blogs, posts, Facebook lists, and Pins supporting stay at home moms – especially the lists of things not to say to SAHMs.

So, here, as a working mother, is a list of 6 things I need people to stop saying to me.

Things I Need People to Quit Saying to Me

1.  “I could never let someone else raise my child.”

Really? Me neither. Just because my child may be at preschool for part of his day does not mean that I am not raising him. I know what he does during the day, every day. I make all of the important moral/medical/lifestyle decisions regarding his upbringing. When he is in my care – for the majority of his day and the weekend – I make an extra effort to spend quality time with him because of our time apart. Let’s agree that we are both raising our own children.

2.  “My family made financial sacrifices so I could care for our child.”

The vast majority of parents make sacrifices for their children. You believe that making less money in order to stay home with your child is the best decision for her. I believe that my child benefits from peer interaction and education he is getting in preschool; the vacations we are able to take; the healthy diet we feed him; and the medical interventions he has received. Those are things my job pays for, and I sacrifice time with him in order to provide them because that is what I believe is best for him. Let’s just agree that we both make sacrifices in order to provide what we believe our child needs and respect that mutual spirit of sacrifice.

3.  “I guess your husband doesn’t have a very good job.”

Wow. That’s just so insulting (and, yes, it has been said to me – more than once.) Because I am sarcastic by nature, it is always on the tip of my tongue to say, “Yeah, I should have followed your example and married for money instead of love.” Of course, that is wrong because I know that the speaker did not marry for money; it just seems like they don’t realize the inference behind their words. First, you are implying that my husband should be judged based on his salary, which is kind of like a man judging you on the size of your breasts and the span of your waistline. It is insulting and outdated. Second, you are implying that I should be the one to stay home. There are many stay at home dads who are doing a bang up job. Third, you are implying that I must want to stay home but don’t have the means to do so. There are many women who work because they believe it is best for their families and themselves, not because they “have to”.  I am proud of the example I set for my son(s) as a working mom. I am proud that they see me and Stone as equal both in and outside of our home; I believe it will help them grow up to be strong, sensitive, independent  men. It is fine if that is not what you think your children need, but please don’t just assume that everyone else needs to feel the same way.  Let’s agree that we both doing what we feel is best.

4. “You are so lucky to get away to work for a break every day. I work 24/7.”

Um, yeah, because I come home to a clean house, dinner on the table, a nanny, a stylist, a personal shopper, and an on-call physician. Is that what you think? Please. Stone and I still take our kid to the doctor, the dentist, the speech therapist, play dates, and birthday parties. We bathe him, feed him, cloth him, discipline him, help him with his homework, and pack his lunch. We clean the house, run the errands, pay the bills, blah, blah, blah. None of that magically does itself while we are at work. Let’s agree that we all have a super long to-do list.

5.  “Staying home lets me really get to know my child.”

Again, I think this speaker doesn’t realize that she is implying I don’t know my child. There are a plethora  of ways to ignore your child – putting them in front of the TV, ignoring them while you chat with the other moms in playgroup,  even just tuning them out – that having nothing to do with whether or not one has a job. I don’t question your knowledge of your child; I am sure that spending your days with them has increased that knowledge. I also know my child better than anyone else in the world – I make a concerted effort to do so.  Let’s agree that we both know, and deeply love our children.

6. “It’s so sad how people have stopped following God’s plan for the family. A woman’s place is in the home.”

You have just foisted your religion on me. You may now remove it. I choose to follow a God who created all human beings equally, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. I opine that a God who creates an entire gender to serve another is not a being I would like to worship. If you chose to worship a misogynistic God, that is your prerogative. Please respect my right to worship my own God in my own way.

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day, however you chose to spend it. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Salmon Patties

The two things I have craved most during this pregnancy are margaritas and fish. I can't have margaritas, obviously, so that is just an unfulfilled desire. I have to be careful with fish as well because of the risk of mercury. When I do get to indulge in some salmon or tuna or other fishy delight, I am a very happy camper.

I used the recipe from the back of the salmon can as a starting point for these and then just went completely off on my own. They were lovely. Stone said they tasted "fresh and perfectly cooked".

Salmon Patties
15 oz canned salmon, flaked (I also remove skin and any larger bones)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning

1. Mix all ingredients until they are well combined.
2. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
3. Use 1/3 cup salmon mix for each patty, flattening before adding to the hot oil.
4. Fry until golden brown, flipping only once to ensure pattys do not fall apart.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

February Bulletin Boards

Fresh Baked Synonym Rolls

Step One: We had our students read an informational text about Lewis and Clark.
Step Two: Each student chose from the story a word he/she thought would have multiple synonyms.
Step Three: Each student made a synonym roll, starting the roll with the word he/she had selected from the text and continuing with synonyms.
Step Four: We chose our favorite synonym rolls and used them to create a bulletin board.

French Phrases

Step One: We took each French phrase from the Tennessee middle school SPI's and created a board with the word, definition, and a visual reminder.
Step Two: Students recreated the board on construction paper, creating original visual reminders.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffins

Stone is the primary breakfast maker in our house. Through the week, we tend to eat cereal, oatmeal, and toast - easy, fast food. On the weekend, Stone makes us biscuits, pancakes, omelets, and all manner of delicious treats. This morning he was making blueberry muffins. Since he was using real blueberries, we knew that Simon was unlikely to eat them (Simon disdains combining textures). So, I mixed up some chocolate chip and peanut butter muffins to round out the meal. The recipe came from and was as delicious as it was easy.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Muffins
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Mix peanut butter and butter in a large bowl. Add in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
2. Stir in flour. Add milk and chocolate chips, stirring until just combined.
3. Spoon by 1/3 cup measures into 12 cup muffin pan (use liners if using a metal pan - I use stoneware).
4. Bake 23 minutes at 350F.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sexy Mexi Casserole

Sometimes, being pregnant, I decide that I want to eat something weird - like Mexican food and pancake mix. Thankfully, this (unlike my craving for bacon wrapped cheese in chocolate sauce) turned out to be something that everyone enjoyed. 

Sexy Mexi Casserole
1 lb ground chicken
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans great northern beans
1 can condensed cream of tomato soup
cumin, cayenne  pepper, and cilantro to taste
2 cups pancake mix + water as indicated by box

1. Brown the chicken in a medium skillet over medium heat. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, peppers, onions, and beans. Season to taste with cumin, cayenne, and cilantro. Stir in soup. 
3. Spoon chicken mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish. 
4. Mix 2 cups pancake mix with water per box instructions (do not use the pancake mix that requires you to add milk, oil, etc - use the water only mix). Pour batter over the chicken mixture in the casserole dish. 
5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until pancake topping is golden brown. Serve with sour cream and cheese if desired. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Crock-Pot Honey Chicken

This recipe was posted at Mmm...Cafe, and I found it on Pinterest. I adapted it just a bit to fit with my family's preference for spice:)

Crock Pot Honey Chicken
3/4 lb chicken, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 cup tomato sauce
3 tsp red pepper flakes

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in crock pot. In a small bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, onion, tomato sauce, and red pepper flakes. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook on low heat 3 hours. Serve over rice. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chocolate and Pecan Filled Cinnamon Waffles

I gave up baked goods for Lent this year. If you are not familiar with Lent, it is a 40 day fast celebrated by Liturgical Christians (Catholics, Methodists, etc). In addition to restrictions on certain days - like no meat on Friday - you are asked to choose something to give up, or fast from, throughout Lent. This year, I gave up baked goods. Each Sunday is a feast day, so on Sundays I am allowed to break my fast and indulge in some baked good. I had seen the idea of making cinnamon rolls in the waffle maker and thought it would be a lovely Sunday feast. However, since this is my one baked good of the week, I wanted to make it ridiculously good. Thus, I kicked it up a notch by adding chocolate and nuts.

Chocolate and Pecan Filled Cinnamon Waffles
1 can (8 count) cinnamon rolls with icing
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Use the bottom of a cup to flatten out the middle of each cinnamon roll. The result should be a flat disk with a slightly raised edge.
2. Place one cinnamon roll onto your heated waffle maker. Into the center of the roll, sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts to taste. Top this with another cinnamon roll. Close the waffle maker, pressing down the lid to seal the "waffle".
3. Allow the "waffle" to cook according to directions for a normal waffle. Remove the "waffle" to a warm oven (200F) and repeat this process with the remaining cinnamon rolls.
4. Before serving, top waffles with any leftover chips, pecans, and the icing from the cinnamon roll can.

Results = ridiculously good