Sunday, October 31, 2010



So, the conversation when something like this.

Ring, ring.

Me: Hello?

Leslie: Hey, do you have one of those mini crockpots for making dips?

Me: No, but I think my sister-in-law has one you could borrow.

Leslie: No, I don't need to borrow one. I just bought one and you need to buy one too. It's Crock-tober at Fred Meyer and it's a great deal.

Me: What are you going to do with it?

Leslie: Fred Meyer is selling them for $10. Plus they have a 20% off coupon, AND a coupon for free Kraft caramels. Caramel apples for Halloween. (She says in a sing-songy voice.) I also have a great book on crockpot dips and appetizers. Ooooh... and fondue.

Me: Oh, yum! I'll be heading out to get one of those!

That's the sign of a true friend... one who knows your love of a great deal AND sweet and savory treats. Thanks for looking out for me Leslie!




One of the blogs I read, Jamie Cooks It Up, has a tutorial on how to make chocolate caramel apples. Click HERE to see it.

Image from

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Italian Turkey Lasagna Recipe


I've had several requests in the comment section, as well as by email, for me to share the recipe for my lasagna. I don't have step by step pictures, but the pictures I have will give you the idea.

First, here's the grocery list:
1 Box oven ready lasagna noodles (I always buy oven ready, but I'm not particular about the brand.)
1 lb ground Italian turkey (It's in the ground turkey section at just about any grocery store.)
2 jars alfredo sauce
15 oz carton of part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp All Purpose Italian Seasoning (or you could do 1/2 tsp basil and 1/2 tsp oregano.)
6 cups mozzarella cheese
3/4 cups parmesan cheese
1 zucchini
1 big handful of fresh spinach leaves

I usually start by browning the turkey meat and setting it aside.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, Italian seasoning, and egg.
I used my mandolin to cut the zucchini and then gave the zucchini and spinach a quick chop with my knife.
Next, it's time to start layering.
I like to use my biggest baking dish, which is 11x17.
Spray a little Pam cooking spray in the bottom of the dish.
Add a little alfredo sauce to coat the bottom of the pan.
Then,start layering: sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, ground turkey, chopped veggies, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, repeat. The order doesn't really matter, just as long as all of those yummy layers are in there. I try to have equal amounts of ingredients in each layer, but it never seems to work out that well.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350. Then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.


Check out all of these layers of cheesy goodness!




Enjoy with warm French bread and spinach salad. Happy cooking!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lasagna and Home and Family Friday

This is parent/teacher conference week. I'm exhausted! I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to going home and making a great home cooked meal for my family after school today.

I decided to make Italian Turkey Lasagna with alfredo sauce.


My kids don't mind vegetables, so I chopped up some spinach and zucchini to add to the dish.




YUM! That's all I have to say about that. I'd share the recipe with you, but that would involve me getting off of the couch... and that's not going to happen right now.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Reorganizing the Book Nook

Well, hello there, little label maker... It's been such a long time since we've seen each other! Are you ready to help me with a little project?

(I tried to put a halo-like-glow around it. Can you tell?)

My kids and I spent some quality time going through the bookshelf on Sunday evening. We weeded out many of the books that the kids have outgrown. Once we reduced the amount of books on the shelf, we were ready for a little reorganizing. As a kindergarten teacher, my classroom library is organized into thematic bins. I have about 50 little bins in my classroom.

classroom library

I don't quite have that much space in our home library nook. The label maker was my best friend for this project.

I decided to divide the books the same way I do in the classroom. We sorted the books into piles and then made a section on each shelf. Since I don't have enough room for the number of bins I'd like, I just used my label maker to label each section. I'd like to do little pictures, like I do in my classroom. That will have to be a project for another day.

We had a lot of Dora books, so they got their own bin. Arthur books were pretty popular so they got a bin too. I have bins for a few chapter book series, but the rest of the books are just on the shelves, sorted by category.
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Shall we take bets on how long this lasts?

Check out these parties I like to link up to.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Cinnamon Rolls


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This cinnamon roll recipe is a repost from last spring. When I was participating in the housewares focus group in Chicago, I talked about how frequently I use my breadmakers. The question was asked, if I thought breadmakers were making a comeback. Well, no. I don't know a single person who still uses their bread machine. I use mine about once a week. I have two machines so I can make double batches of my favorite recipes. What about you? Do you use a bread maker?

Not long ago I shared about our family tradition of getting together to celebrate birthdays. My extended family gathers about once a month, sometimes every other month, to enjoy appetizers, a meal, way too many desserts, kid play time, adult conversation time, and cinnamon rolls.

My grandma (we call her Nanie) started making cinnamon rolls for our dinner parties as far back as I can remember.

Here's my grandma and my mom at our party last week.

I know cinnamon rolls are traditionally a breakfast or brunch item, but they have always been part of every family celebration in my family. I have fond memories of watching my grandma roll out the dough. She always let me scoop up the cinnamon and brown sugar crumbs off of the cutting board when she was done. I remember my Nanie teaching me to make her cinnamon roll recipe just after I was married. They weren't as hard to make as I thought, but mine just never turned out quite as good as hers. I would guess my grandma had made those rolls about 300 times over the past 30 years. Yep, 10 parties a year for 30 years or more.

Now that Nanie is 92 and living in assisted living, she isn't able to make her rolls any more. My mom and I are really the only people in the family who truly enjoy baking. (Well, except for the Ellensburg folks, but we just have them bring chips and pop since they have to cross the mountains.) So, it's up to us to carry on this family tradition.

I've tried making my grandma's recipe many times, but since I just can't live up to these standards I've decided to branch out and try a new recipe. Believe me, my family is full of cinnamon roll experts. They critique the size, gooeyness, amount of cinnamon versus brown sugar, and even the frosting. (My mom tried to switch to canned frosting one time. BIG mistake... BIG MISTAKE!!!) You should hear the wrath of the family when the rolls fail to rise, or you didn't make a double batch and they are starting to run out.

So, let's get to it. Cinnamon rolls are really not as hard as they look. I have to admit. I cheat. Nanie did not have the luxury of throwing the ingredients into the bread machine to make her dough, but I couldn't live without my bread machines.

I have two bread makers and they both have a DOUGH CYCLE. That's very important because the machine only does the work of making the dough.

I cannot take credit for this recipe. I found it online many years ago. Now the website is called The Fresh Loaf. I can't wait to explore it a little more. Click here to find the recipe. It suggested using a bread machine for the dough and I decided to give it a try. It was so easy and the recipe is fantastic!

Yep, it's a Cinnabon knock off recipe.

When I printed it out many years ago, the hit counter said I was the first view, but who knows.

I always use this yeast. I buy the big jar because I bake a lot, but it also comes in little packets.

You just follow the directions and throw everything into the bread maker.

At that point, you walk away. When you come back, your dough will magically be ready to turn into rolls. It really is as simple as that. (Just remember to use warm ingredients because warmth activates the yeast.)

Now for the fun part. Roll out the dough on a cutting board.

Add the margarine.

Add the cinnamon and brown sugar. The recipe calls for a specific type of cinnamon, but I don't have it. The generic Safeway cinnamon has always worked just fine for me.

Roll it up.

Slice it. This is the point where my son yells, "Wait! I want to come listen to you slice them! I love that sound." Is that not the cutest thing??? Here's my big sports loving nine year old who just loves to be part of the baking experience. I told him that the sound of the rolls slicing will always be something he remembers and looks back on.

Place them in a pan to rise.

Don't forget to let the kids nibble the cinnamon and sugar leftovers.

Fresh out of the pan, ready for frosting.


Check out these parties I like to link up to.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Home and Family Friday

It's been a beautiful Fall week, here in the Pacific Northwest. We spent a little time at the pumpkin farm. Take a look at a few of our pictures, before linking up to Home and Family Friday.



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