Thursday, July 31, 2014

White chocolate and dark chocolate oven s'mores

Summer is over for us. All my children are in school this year, even Little Miss. Her teacher is Mrs. McDonald and the kindergarteners keep calling her Mrs. McDonalds ha ha It's very cute and reminds me how my first graders last year called me Mrs. Celery. 

The biggest regret this summer was not being able to camp. With my graduate classes and D moving to a new school that's on a different calendar, we just didn't have a chance.

The solution was to bring our favorite parts of camping home. The kids pitched the tent in the backyard and slept outside   for more than a week.

Normally, when we do indoor s'mores we just roast the marshmallows over the gas stove. This time, we wanted something a bit more... Fun.


These aren't your typical s'mores. We used white chocolate chips and Hershey nuggets layered in a cast iron skillet.


Next, we topped it with mini marshmallows and placed it in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.


After everything was melty, I turned the broiler on to give the marshmallows a nice toast.



Scoop into little ramekins and dip in your graham crackers!

This was a small cast iron skillet and it made quite a bit of dip. It took 1 bag of white chips and one bag of chocolate nuggets.


Mmmm 




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Daily Classroom Board

School is winding down for me, finally. I really love being back in school. For the most part, I love learning and to be honest, I'd love to be a permanent student. But, that's just not realistic (or economically feasible!)

While I'm almost done for the semester, D and the kids are getting ready to head back to school. A big change this year is D is moving not only schools, but school districts. He gave up tenure, which is a very scary thing, to be at a school further from home, but one that will hopefully not give him so much stress.

That also means he has to set up his classroom in a new school for the first time in six years. He has a lot of ... stuff...

I love him and he is a great teacher, but his classroom before was a bit much. Posters...everywhere...even things hanging down from the ceiling. I found it to be scattered and well...over stimulating. Less is more!

After all my "suggestions" and pinning ideas for him he very graciously agreed to let me take over the classroom decorating.

Mwuahahaha

The first thing I introduced him to was Washi Tape. And I had to reassure him that it was perfectly fine to go on the white board.




I really love how the blue just pops off the black butcher paper. I wanted to use purple, but ... well, he had to draw the line at "girly" colors...

This is the only dry erase board he has in the room. It is at the front right next to his SmartBoard.

The desks are set up in a horseshoe shape, a configuration D said he'd "try" just to humor me. I really believe he's going to like it. He can do a quick round of the students and be just a few steps from anyone needing help as he teaches from the middle.




Anything to get him out of the traditional "rows of seats" mindset. He completely nixed the "E" configuration.  At least with this, he can group the kids together a bit easier.

I'm sure I won't think this is as much fun once I have my own classroom. For now, it's great to have his to practice on!





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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brownie cupcakes with lavender icing

This year for the big 4-0, my wonderful Leelee decided to break out her baking skills again. Usually I have angel food cake, pretty much every year. Leelee has been trying to break me of that and this year she succeeded ... Mainly because I was too busy doing the school thing to worry about birthday cake.

I headed off to my night class on American Realist Writers and tried to stay awake. I came home to find a complete cupcake flop. I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was gooey and sunken. Edible only because it was chocolate.



The next day, she tried again while I was at school working on a research paper (History of Educating Women in the United States and Projections for the Future). For some reason she didn't think to look in the freezer for butter and ended up substituting plain shortening. I was very pleased with the result! It was more cake than brownie, but just barely. Paired with a lavender icing...just a wonderful combo! So very glad I planted lavender this year.

This recipe originally called for dried lavender. I've never seen dried lavender in stores. When substituting fresh herbs for dried, you typically need to triple the amount of dried herbs. Fresh herbs are generally better, in my experience, so I tend to go with fresh even if the dried is readily available in stores.

Brownie Cupcakes with Lavender Icing
adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 3/4 C plus 2 T  flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 tsalt
  • 1/2 C plus 2 1/2 T Shortening
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 C sugar
  • 2 large room temperature eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract 

 Lavender Icing
  • 1/3 C milk
  •  1/2 T fresh lavender
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • Purple gel-paste food coloring 
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Beat chocolate with an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Beat in Vanilla and reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
Divide batter into muffin cups. Bake about 18 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

To make icing:
Bring milk and lavender to boil. Remove from heat and let set for about 10 minutes. Using a strainer or cheesecloth, strain the milk and throw away the lavender. Quickly whisk in the sugar until smooth, then strain again. Add the gel-paste coloring.