Reader beware: It’s a doozy!

Disclaimer:¬†Wow! I had this post written and nearly ready for posting, back in JANUARY! Eek. I’m not sure what happened, but I have decided it is time to revise and post this bad boy. So sit back, grab a mug of coffee and get ready for some giggles! ūüôā¬†

The title says it all. This post is chock full of craziness! Such is my life as of lately. I am full force into phasing into my student teaching. I spend all day, every day with my little kiddos and I love them to death! Last week was quite the week however, and I had every intention of writing about it in the middle of the week and of course, things got too hectic. The reason this week was a doozy has to do with the wide array of situations I was exposed to and handled this past week! I dealt with blood, snot, poo and vomit – all within 4 hours! I am pretty sure that is record, unless you’re a parent, then of course it might be a daily¬†occurrence. ūüėČ If you’re interested to find out the story behind these bodily fluid stories, keep reading. Otherwise, scroll down to the best part of this post… the goodies I baked today!

It was a doozy of a day…

Before beginning my story it is important to understand that I have begun ‘phasing in’, which means I am slowly taking over subjects throughout the day so I will be nearly full time by the time February begins. That being said, I am teaching the entire morning now. So rewind to Wednesday. We had just finished our reading block, and were all nestled together doing our little math calendar routine when all of a sudden a hand goes up and I hear a Mrs. Santie!! {Which generally drives me nuts, because the kids always yell my name, I’ve been working diligently to teach them patience!} Its my little sweetie, “MY NOSE IS BLEEDING!!!” And was it ever, I no sooner got tissues to her and the blood was gushing out of her nose. I freaked! I haven’t even had a bloody nose myself, and I was unsure of school procedures for such a situation, so I sent one of my kiddos to find my mentor teacher. She wasn’t in the hallway like I thought she was – so my little guy begins pounding on the shared room to get the attention of one of our para-educators! {Think Mervyn’s “Open, open” commercials!}

The funny part is that if he had run back into our classroom, the door is always unlocked in there! Haha. Long story short, my little kiddo was okay and I learned procedure for bloody noses. It was fairly comical.

Everything seemed to be back to normal after lunch. We did our math lesson, and got through our math quizzes. The kids worked so hard. It was great! We transitioned into our Daily 5 time {Which is essentially like the Silent Sustained Reading {SSR} time we had as kids}, the kids grabbed their school boxes and found their reading spots. All was good. Their time was up so we were gathering back on the carpet to evaluate their success and the kids started freaking out… “EWWWW it stinks!”, “It smells like fart!!” I tried calming the kids down but geez, it really did stink and it wasn’t going away!

Fast forward… we had finished Daily 5 were now lining up for recess and another one of our kiddos had a break down and started arguing with mentor teacher, he started crying and his whole face was covered, I mean COVERED with snot. So I stayed back and calmed him down. We walked out to recess and the kids were all playing nicely. After recess it was time for P.E., we all lined up, and guess what? It still stinks! Just about then, my teacher noticed a strange mark on one of our kiddos pants. She approached him, “Did you have an accident?”, he absolutely denied it as he was backing up into a bush to cover his bottom!¬† Long story short — the smell at carpet?! He pooed his pants! Oh my goodness, it was sooo bad. I felt horrible for him, and for everyone who had to enter our classroom!! We sent him to the nurse and then headed up to check on him. After talking with the office staff, we checked our mailbox and headed back into the hall where we noticed a second grader running¬†down the stairs, when all of a sudden… vomit. Oh geez… all I could think was “Really?!” and then, “Oh no! Damage control time!” Our little kinders were walking out to second recess, I had to guide them around the vomit and get them to walk outside, they were like deer in a headlight, couldn’t get over what they were seeing!

Needless to say, it was a doozy of a day!

Kind of like my treats I made yesterday. I think we all know that I love¬†chocolate and peanut butter. You can’t go wrong there! This is a doozy of a delicious¬†combination!

Double Chocolate Espresso Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Buttercream

Double Chocolate Espresso Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 T unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¬ľ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
¬ĺ cup chocolate chips
1 tsp instant espresso powder

Directions:

1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Stir in the egg and vanilla.
3. Gradually mix in the flour mixture to the wet mixture, until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Separate the dough into two and roll them into 2 uniform logs about 12 inches long. Refrigerate it until firm enough to slice.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. Cut the logs into 1 inch slices and place 1 ¬Ĺ inches apart on the prepared sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked. The cookies should be tender, so do not over bake. {Note: watch these closely! I was chit-chatting with a friend and not paying attention. My cookies turned out crispy. Take out a little earlier than your judgement tells you!}

Peanut Butter Buttercream

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 T milk

Directions:

1. Cream together butter and peanut butter.
2. Add vanilla, mix until creamy and combined.
3. Slowly add powdered sugar until incorporated.
4. Add milk and then whip until creamy. Frosting should be slightly thick.

Source & Recipe: Lovin’ From the Oven, originally from Jules Food

Cheers! Hope y’all have a fabulous weekend!! ūüôā

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28/52: Braised Carnitas Tacos

Man, I think my brain needs a break. I have this tendency to get completely engrossed in a topic that is bothering me, to the point where I physically get upset {stomach hurts, lose appetite, etc}. And that was my problem last night. We are currently taking a course about child abuse and neglect, and what you need to report, how to report, etc. It is completely beyond me how someone could do such horrible things to their child. I of course want to be an advocate for children and help them get help when they need it. But I just don’t want to have to experience a situation where I need to report. I’m not sure if that makes any sense… But, I guess this is all a part of being a teacher. I knew I would have to deal with this, but it is one of those situations that until the reality of it hits you it’s hard to conceptualize. Sigh. At least the course is almost over so I won’t have to be thinking about things in extreme detail for a bit.

Anyway… on to something more uplifting. I am taking a break from it all and bringing some delicious food straight to you! Voila! ūüôā

I was sitting here yesterday trying to figure out what I am going to post this week – {Since I have been pre-occupied with school and not cooking or baking much of anything that is blog worthy} – when it hit me. Gasp. I realized I never shared with you my delicious recipe for slow cooked, braised carnitas!! Slow cooked pork shoulder in a flavorful sauce, wrapped up in a warm tortilla with cilantro lime rice, black beans and homemade salsa?! Oh yes.

Until recently I had never had braised carnitas but once I did it was life changing! The cliff’s note version of the story is… One afternoon the hubby and I decided to pop down to The Matador and grab some lunch, we both settled on the braised carnitas and were instantly in Mexican food heaven {which for me, Mexican food is heaven, I could eat it everyday!}. The meat just melted in your mouth and was popping with insane flavor. After that, I decided it was time to track down a similar recipe and introduce this into our menu… after much searching I found a recipe that had similar spices, but I wasn’t crazy about the overall recipe. So I found yet another, added a few spices to that one and a more flavorful beer and was totally pleased.

I always know when I have a good recipe because Johnny walks in the door from work and tells me how good dinner smells… that’s the true test for a winning recipe! My one regret — the recipe smelled so good, and I was so anxious to try it that I only got a few pics. It didn’t do justice… you simply just have to try this recipe!

Oh yeah. The meat just falls apart once its done, so good. Serve it up with a warmed tortilla, cilantro-lime rice {cook up rice, add juice of 1 lime, and a bunch of chopped cilantro, stir and you’re in business}, black beans, avocado… basically the works}. This is one of those meals that just warms your soul, it is mucho delicioso!

Braised Carnitas Tacos

Ingredients:
5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 5 inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
2 T sea salt
2 T vegetable oil
1 cup white onion, diced
1-2 T fresh garlic minced
2 bottles {12 oz.} Rogue Amber Ale **This is my substitution, the recipe originally called for Fat Tire, but I love Rogue’s Amber – you could use anything you like
1 tsp chile powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 whole bay leaves
Tortillas
Garnish — lime wedges and salsa

Directions:
Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with salt.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the pieces of pork in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches. Be sure to take your time to get a deep brown color as it enhances the flavor. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to properly brown all the meat.

Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel. Discard all but one tablespoon of the grease that remains in the pot. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pot and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional one to two minutes. Then pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.

Heat the oven to 350¬ļF.

Add the pork back to the pot and add the remaining of the seasonings and spices. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3 to 3¬Ĺ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.

Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, discarding any big chunks of fat. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized.

Serve with tortillas and your choice of salsas and toppings.

Source & Recipe: Slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen

24/52: Life revamp & Bridal Shower Cupcakes

If you know me,¬†it is not surprise to hear I am a creature of routine. I love getting up every morning with my husband, getting him off to work and then going about my day. I love going to work every morning… Even if I don’t want to work, the simple process of getting ready and accomplishing something during the day is fabulous. It gives me purpose. I had anticipated¬†that I’d have to get used to a new routine once I started school. But I am shocked at how crazy my life has felt for the past week! Not only am I not in a routine at home yet (juggling laundry, cooking, cleaning and most importantly homework) I am struggling to get my brain movin’ again. My academic critical thinking skills definitely are getting a “tune-up” right now. ūüėČ I am just hoping that I get back into a routine soon, I hate feeling disorganized!

Needless to say, this week has been one full of adjustment and my blog somewhat suffered! I posted a short, sweet inspirational post last week because I was busy baking for my bestie’s bridal shower… And well, this week I haven’t had time until now. On the positive – thank goodness for 4 day class weeks so I can play catch up!

This week I bring you Rachel’s bridal shower cupcakes! These have been a on-going recipe experiment. I think I finally found a combination I like. I guess as the saying goes “third time’s the charm”! The first time around my inspiration was a flavor concept, so I googled multiple recipes. I wanted a coconut cupcake with coconut buttercream. The recipe was semi-homemade and the frosting was overly sweet. The second time around I made them for my bridal shower. I wanted to bake and just baked the flavor I was asked to. When it came time for Rachel’s shower I gave her a ling list of flavor options but she wanted coconut! This time I decided to make the frosting¬† on a whim and we decided to pair it with a vanilla and/or chocolate cupcake to bring out the coconut flavor more. And you know what? I loved them!! They were delicious and a big hit at the shower. Yum! Enjoy!!


Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

The dark chocolate cupcake is the same recipe that I used on my Dark Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream  post {And were originally from Brown Eyed Baker}, with the addition of 1/4 tsp of espresso powder to emphasize the chocolate flavor. The vanilla cupcake recipe can be found on one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker.

Coconut Buttercream

*Enough to frost 12 cupcakes or so, double if you are making more than 12

2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
3-5 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 T Coconut extract
Heavy cream, at room temperature {Cold milk or cream added to frosting can cause curdling}

Start by creaming the butter in the bowl of a standup mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy {a few minutes}. Add 2-3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar to start, continue adding until the consistency is very, very thick {This will vary for everyone on multiple factors}. Beat until¬†all ingredients are completely incorporated¬†and smooth.¬†Add the coconut extract {I would start by adding half the extract and then adding more to taste} and beat on medium until the frosting is smooth and well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add a small amount of the heavy cream to somewhat thin the frosting to a medium {piping} consistency. Once you have added enough heavy cream for your desired consistency, whip the frosting on medium-high until extremely fluffy. Add to piping bag and decorate!

The finished product!

Have fun decorating… I decorated them three different ways to add some flair, some are decorated like snow balls with shaved coconut and some are decorated simply with pearl sprinkles. Get creative and have fun. ūüôā

Happy Friday – everyone enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to celebrate all of those awesome dads out there!

19/52: Hittin’ the books…

A few weeks after I started this blog {back in January}, Johnny and I decided that it was time for us to make a move in one direction or another. After much consideration, we decided that I should focus on and work toward getting back into school. The past few months have been quite a whirl wind, and it has been so difficult to not tell you guys what is going on! I have had tests to study for and take {The ever so fun WEST-E}, applications to complete and essays to write. But I’m happy to report that I have been accepted into the program I applied for! I will be going back to school full-time to get my Master of Arts in Elementary Education. It’s a big change because I won’t be able to work during the program {I worked full-time while getting my undergrad degree}.¬†It is a¬†full-time¬†program with student teaching at the same time, but it will all be worth it. In a little over one year, I will be all done! And the best part? I get to go back to the beautiful campus of¬†our alma mater… Pacific Lutheran University!¬†{Johnny and I are both alumni}

So… you might have to bear with me over the summer while I get into the swing¬†of things. (The program starts next month) It has been years since I’ve been in school, so this will be quite the adjustment! But I am so, so, so excited. ūüôā

Now that you’re all up to date… I want to share with you one of my new favorite weeknight meals. It is soo¬†easy. Our new love is Orzo with Kielbasa, Peppers and Tomatoes! The pictures don’t do it justice. I was only able to snap a few quick shots because it smelled so good I couldn’t wait to dive in. ūüėČ

Orzo with Kielbasa, Peppers and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 pound orzo pasta
1 T olive oil
1 kielbasa
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 roasted red peppers, cut in 1/4 inch strips {I used jarred}
2 tomatoes, chopped & seeded
1/4 t red pepper flakes {more or less to taste}
2 T dried parsley
2 t onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan {I used fresh parmesan already grated from the store}

Directions:

In a large sauce pan, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just past al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. {I prefer my orzo tender, not chewy}

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the kielbasa and saute, until warmed through, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add the peppers, tomatoes and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.

Drain the pasta and slowly transfer into the skillet. Stir the pasta into the kielbasa mixture adding 1 T of parsley, and the salt and pepper to taste. Once the pasta and kielbasa mixture are combined, add the 1/2 cup of parmesan and combine again. Top with remaining parsley and serve. If you are serving for a dinner party, transfer the mixture into a serving bowl before topping with the remaining parsley.

Source: Slightly adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada¬†de Laurentiis

Man, I just love all the flavors that the¬†pasta picks up¬†from the mixture. Its like orzo heaven. Such a fun and quick meal… definitely a new staple in our house!

On another note, Happy Friday everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m mentally gearing up for a race that I haven’t really been able to train for… I’m sure you will hear all about it next week! ūüėČ

Ciao!