Grilled Chicken with Roasted Eggplant

DSCN2039My oldest loves to learn about other countries and cultures.  She often checks out books at the library about countries she would like to experience.  This year in CC we are studying ancient civilizations and many of her books have coordinated a great deal with our curriculum.  My sweet children are a lot like their mother.  They love to relate to anything through food, and they have been asking most of the school year to cook some of the food from one of these books.

I agreed to let her choose a meal for dinner.  She and her brother wanted lamb kebobs from Turkey.  I love lamb, but I’ve never been brave enough to cook it myself.  With our budget, I couldn’t imagine spending the money for the lamb and not cooking it properly.  I managed to convince them that we should try the recipe with chicken instead.  Chicken is so far from lamb it’s ridiculous, and part of me felt really horrible about it.  I told them we would still use the same spices and flavorings.  I forgot the oregano at the store, so we made some adjustments with Italian seasoning.  It may not be authentic to the book, but this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the book on Turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. course ground pepper
  • about 10 mini sweet bell peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large eggplant cut into cubes

In a blender, combine the salt, pepper, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Blend until it forms a paste.  Place the cubed chicken into one gallon sized Ziploc bag and the eggplant and peppers into a separate bag.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag, seal, and massage the bags to make sure the paste covers all the meat and veggies.  Place the bags in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  We let ours sit for 2-3 hours.

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Remove the meat from the bag and place onto skewers.  Heat your grill pan or grill, and spray or coat with oil to prevent sticking.  I used medium high heat.  Place the skewers on the grill pan and cook until you see beautiful grill marks and your chicken is cooked on one side.  After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and continue until cooked through.

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You can skewer and cook the eggplant on the grill as well, but I did not have enough space.  Instead I roasted the eggplant in our oven.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the peppers and eggplant on a large greased cookie sheet.  For easy cleanup, I lined my sheet with aluminum foil and then greased. Bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.

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Before

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After

We served the chicken and veggies with rice and salad. A healthy dinner served and lots of happy faces!

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Science Rocks!

I have not been online in a bit.  I have been sick on and off for the past few weeks, but today I was feeling better, and decided to have some science fun with the kids in school today.  As always, anything that allows us to incorporate food into our lessons is a huge score!

We started the lesson by reviewing some of the CC Science memory work from the last couple of weeks.  I had the kids answer the questions, “What are some parts of the earth?”, and “What are some types of rock?”.  We then re-read passages from two of our library books to elaborate on the memory work.  We used Geology by Frank H. T. Rhodes and the Earth from the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books Series by Susanna Van Rose.

The activity ideas for the day were found on this great blog, Beakers and Bumblebees Blog: a Journey through fifth grade Science class!  As always I used whatever we had on hand at home. First we created an edible model of the layers of the earth using the cut off bottom of a cake ice cream cone, cake frosting, chocolate syrup, and a hard candy.  The cone was our crust.  The frosting was our mantle.  The syrup was our liquid outer core, and we used a lemonhead breath mint as our hard inner core.  We read and talked about the hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere while we ate our models.

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Next we sang the song we found on the blog and started working on making our rocks.

We will we will rock you!
we will we will rock you!
Volcanos erupt with lava so hot
it cools and hardens and its igneous rock cuz
rocks can change…all over this place…
they weather, and melt, and get rearranged!
We will we will rock you!
we will we will rock you!
Rock gets weathered into tiny tiny rocks
layers and layers get piled on top
it gets compacted, its elementary
this rock will become sedimentary
we will we will rock you
we will we will rock you!
Any type of rock under heat and pressure
becomes metamorphic and that’s for sure
cuz rocks can change, all over this place..
they weather, and melt and get rearranged
we will we will rock you
we will we will rock you!

The kids loved the song!

First, we made metamorphic rocks by using the heat and pressure from our hands to change snickers bars into deliciously rearranged rocks.  We placed the candies into Ziploc bags and then smashed away.DSCN2019 - CopyDSCN2021 - Copy

Next, we used a candle to demonstrate how igneous rocks are formed.  We compared the melted and cooled wax to the lava that flows from volcanoes to create igneous rocks.  We then melted our own chocolate “rocks”, you may call them chips, and allowed them to “flow” over waxed paper and cool.  My son said it was the best rocks he had ever tasted.  There’s something special about a dark chocolate igneous rock. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture. I think I was a little too messy by that point or fighting the littlest to let the chocolate cool.  I know there was an incident with the candle.  You’ll have to trust me.

We ended the lesson by making our edible version of sedimentary rocks.  We began by taking a few cookie “rocks” and ” weathering” them until we were left with crumbs.  By weathering I mean dropping them and banging them against things.  Isn’t that what the wind does?  We poured those into ramekins.  We found more sand in the form of brown sugar and layered that on top.  Next a few larger rocks that resembled dark chocolate chips. For the final layer of rocks we used mini marshmallows.  We read about fossils and their deposits in sedimentary rocks and used butter as our oil deposits created by those dead animals.  We placed the ramekins in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and allowed them to cool.  After lunch we unearthed our sedimentary rocks for a crunchy dessert.

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Thank goodness we had a really light breakfast this morning because we pretty much ate nothing but sugar the first half of the day.  Had I planned better, I would have spaced those out over a few days.  There is certainly something to be said for feeling better and being out of bed!  And yes, I know this was crazy to take on my first day back.  I’m paying for it now, because I’m exhausted.  Good night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking Season Pics

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Neapolitan Cake

I never got a chance to fully go through baking season, so I thought I would post a few pictures of some of the goodies the kids and I baked up.  It should be obvious why my pants are a little tight.

 

 

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Carrot Cake Cheesecake

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Orange Cranberry Coffee Cake

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

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Strawberry Minnie Mouse

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Lemon Pirate Ship

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1st attempt at Homemade Gingerbread House

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Texans Jersey

Honey Balsamic Kale with Onions

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My children LOVE kale!  For a while they were obsessed with kale chips like the rest of the world. What’s not to like? You get to flavor them any way you want, they’re crunchy and salty and just yummy.  But…there is always a but.  Their father wouldn’t eat kale chips.

I would sauté kale for him and make kale chips for the kids.  My oldest became more adventurous and started eating the sautéed kale, but my middle and little would not.  I was determined not to make  two types of kale every. single. time.  Once in a while was one thing, but it was getting ridiculous, especially with the amount of kale we were eating.  When I came up with this recipe, it solved my problems.

The honey and balsamic vinegar mixed with the caramelized onions takes away some of the bitterness that is not always appealing to younger palates.  Kale chips are still popular, but this is a flavor filled side dish that satisfies everyone in the house!

Ingredients:

  •  1 lb kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil.  Once the butter has melted, add your sliced onions.  Cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize.

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This may take a while_10-15 minutes or so. Be patient. Cooking them slowly releases all the delicious sugars in the onions. The longer you cook them the softer and more sugary they get.  So if you want to get these nice and brown before adding the kale, go for it.  It will only get better.  Add the minced garlic, stir, and cook about 2 minutes more.   Add the chopped kale, broth, vinegar, salt, and pepper and stir. Drizzle honey and stir again. Start with a tablespoon and adjust as needed for your taste.  Cover the pot and allow the kale to cook until it wilts and is tender.  It should take around 10 minutes. Enjoy!

I Lied

 

I basically spent my last month and a half of 2015 baking non-stop.  It’s usually my sweet spot (that was completely unintentional but now I’m giggling).  Somehow I ended up exhausted and drained from it all. Add in a minor car accident the week after Birthday Season ended, and getting sick after Christmas and I said these words on New Year’s Day, “I think I’m going to take a little break from baking.  I need to dial it back a bit”.

Tomorrow is  Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day.  The holiday celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child.  For a New Orleans girl it marks the beginning of Carnival Season and King Cake!  I said I was going to cut back on the baking and I really meant it at the time, but one look at a post from a high school friend saying she can’t believe she’s actually home for King Cake Season and I am in the kitchen making King Cake dough. Jealousy is a horrible thing.   I lied.  I’ll be having something that looks like this tomorrow.

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Happy New Year!

I am a procrastinator to my core.  So it should not be surprising that I am writing, “Happy New Year” at the end of New Year’s Day.  Like many people, my mind has been replaying the ups and downs of 2015, and wondering what 2016 has in store.

The last few weeks of 2015 proved to be slightly challenging.  You would think I would be filled with ideas of how I’m going to attack 2016 differently, but I feel just as clueless as I normally do this time of year. Even thought I gave up New Year’s resolutions many moons ago, it’s hard to escape the feeling of hope that comes with the beginning of a New Year.  I have no grand game plan for 2016, but I look forward to this new start  simply because I’ve been blessed with it.

Today, I thank God for his grace.  I thank God for new beginnings in every way He wishes me to experience them this year.  I pray that as hard as it feels sometimes, that he will continue to align my will with his.  I pray for wisdom to hear his voice and the courage to follow it boldly.  I pray that I will be more grace filled, not only with those around me, but also with myself.  I pray that I will learn to silence that voice that beats me up and tells me I’m a horrible mother, wife, teacher, fill in the blank, and remember every day I am striving to grow in his grace.  I am a child of God, not Jesus himself, so I will make mistakes.  I pray I will remember to look for the lesson and keep on moving because the only way to truly fail is to stop trying.

I wish these same things for those of you who will read this.  2016 let’s do this!