Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons in Hurricanes and Snack Prep...

We’re battening down the hatches over here and mourning the loss of our Country Music Festival tickets for Saturday evening.  We’ve made the responsible decision (boooo) to skip Saturday evenings show and prepare the house for Sunday’s storm. It's unfortunately the right decision given the work that needs to be done including the calming of nerves amongst our little ones!

The storm coverage and adult, hurricane themed, conversations have my kids in a panic.  I have been getting lots of questions about what hurricanes are, how they form, how they’re named and what to expect on Sunday during the storm.  I’m anticipating power outages that will last over an extended period of time and am preparing some foods that do not need refrigeration like granola, granola bars and some honey wheat bread!  We have also stocked up on fruit that can sit in a bowl on our table at room temperature like bananas, apples, oranges, and peaches.  

In addition to food prep, I’m putting together a few hurricane themed books and activities to keep my children from killing each other while (hopefully) lessening their hurricane fears by teaching them what hurricanes are all about.   I’m hoping to calm their fears by explaining that with proper preparation and safety precautions, our family will remain safe and hopefully by making use of the information below, not bored to death!  Good luck and stay safe everyone!

Weather Wiz Kids
This site has a plethora of information on hurricanes including how they form, how they’re names and additional lessons on safety precautions.  You might want to print it out and screen some of the information.  I’m going to steer clear of the super scary information!!!

Hurricane Tracking Chart:
Here is a blank tracking  that allows kids to plot Irene’s track along with the meteorologist on the local news!

Free Weather Coloring Pages For Younger Kids:

 Books for all ages:

Storms and Hurricanes (Usbornne Books)
Kathy Gemmell (Author)

Bruce Degen

Hurricane adventures in reading while the power is out:
For older children-ages 9-12

This is one of my favorite books for older kids!  I used to read this to my 5th graders every year when I was teaching.  Even reluctant readers hung on every word.  If you have a battery operated CD, pick up the audio CD  or download for your MP3 here:

The audio version REALLY adds to the story.  Michael Boatman is a FABULOUS narrator and really captures the intense adventure of this story of survival and friendship!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Giada's Pesto for the Freezer...

Talia caring for the baby herbs back in May...

Four cups of fresh basil washed and ready to go...

I love making use of fresh herbs in the summer time!  Several varieties grow in abundance on a plant stand on our back deck.  I clip them as much as possible, tossing them in pastas, salads and marinades.  I feel so guilty as I watch them wilt away, as the colder nights set in until the first frost forces me to toss whatever remains in the compost bin.  Every year I tell myself I will learn how to dry them or freeze them, but it just never happens! 

I wish I could say that this year will be different and I’m learning how to properly dry herbs or working hard to stock our freezer with the lush, overgrown, twelve varieties I planted, but I’m not!  However, I have decided to trim our four basil plants down in order to make and freeze pesto for the winter!  It's a start.  

This recipe from Giada de Laurentiis is so simple and flavorful!  I serve it over pasta and chicken and have frozen a bunch for us to enjoy throughout the winter! 

Prep Ahead Plan:  Make the pesto recipe as written, divide in half and freeze it in individual containers.

Simple Basil Pesto
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I couldn’t find the toasted variety so I heated a skillet, tossed in the nuts and mixed them around until they were brown on all sides)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup – 1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan

1. Combine garlic, basil, toasted pine nuts and salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. With the blender or food processor still running, add in olive oil until desired            consistence is reached.
3. Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve or freeze!

Toasted pine nuts....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Picnics....

Mid-August has crept right up on us this year!  We have been enjoying every second of the summer months and despite my my urge to order backpacks, buy fleeces and stock up on back to school supplies as the fall months quickly approach, I refuse to do so.  Sitting poolside, applying sunscreen, taking bike rides and playing with friends all day, are hard habits to break.

We're soaking up every last second of that warm summer sunshine by taking advantage of some great local picnic spots! In my opinion, breezy evenings at the beach during those twilight hours are the best part of the day! We love packing a picnic and enjoying our dinner on a blanket, watching sailboats, collecting sea glass and climbing on empty lifeguard chairs.  This barbecue chicken recipe is one of our favorite prep ahead packable dinners! Enjoy!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Prepare the chicken the night before and leave it in the fridge until ready to bake.  I use a foil pan to save on clean up time! A couple hours before heading to your picnic, bake it and pack it up while it's still warm.  We also enjoy this chicken cold, right out of the fridge!

Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken
2-3 pounds chicken pieces (legs and drumsticks work well)
garlic powder
onion powder
black pepper
18 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or use the homemade recipe found here.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken pieces in a foil pan.
2.  Sprinkle with garlic, onion powder, and pepper.  Be sure to season all sides AND underneath the skin.
3.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
4.  Remove pan from oven and brush with barbecue sauce.  Again, be sure to get all around each piece and under the skin.  Continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
5.  For crispy skin, broil on high for the last few minutes until the skin is browned up to your liking!  Enjoy!!!