Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tie Dye Team Building, Puppies in the Pool + Slow Cooker BBQ Pork,Grandma's Best Cornbread, World's Best Lasagna, Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli, Easy Garlic Chicken, One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies & CHICKEN ALFREDO BAKED ZITI Recipes

The school where I work went from a grades 9-12 school to one that offers grades 7-12. As a result, we went from a staff of about 90 to a staff of about 180. It is a big jump, and so there have been activities to help the staff members from both schools begin to feel like a team. My favorite of there activities was the one that involved making tie dye shirts that we will all wear next Thursday once all of the kids from all of the grades has reported to school. A few people from the science department took this one on:
I am excited to see what mine will look like once I unwrap it and wash it. I will share that with you later.

I spent much of Saturday on school work, but Sunday I moved into regular Sunday mode. On the way to the dog park, Remmie and I discovered that it was a doggie swim day at the pool, so of course we joined in. Remmie had a grand time, though he is still unsure of the big pool. Never mind that. He made friends with a 13 week old German Shepard puppy.

I thought that would tire him out. It did not. However, Ellie and Kohlton came home with new toys from the thrift store, so life was extra fun for the K9 on Sunday.

The 7th graders show up tomorrow and I am shifting into school year mode. My school is starting an hour later now, which means that I get out an hour later than before. As a result, I have asked for help. Ethan and Ellie have agreed to be responsible for cooking at least one meal a week. This will help us get dinner on the table at a more reasonable hour and I will be able to work out more often. I also had Ellie pick out the recipes for the week last week, and that worked well, so I had her do the planning again. Here's what we will be having for dinner:

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork
via: Kludgy Mom Blog

4 pounds pork baby back ribs (I used country style ribs)
1/4 cup of barbecue sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

First, you make your rub. It’s a nice blend of spices like paprika, chili powder, white pepper, oregano, sugar and brown sugar. (I triple the batch so I have more for next time)

You slap that rub right on the ribs after you rinse them. We normally use baby back ribs, but we’ve done spare ribs too and they’re just as good.

Stand your ribs on the long end and place in slow cooker. Cook on low for about 6 to 7 hours (my big slow cooker usually has these done in about 6). They smell AMAZING and are falling off the bone.

Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on the ribs, place ‘em on a foil lined cookie sheet, and let the sauce bake onto the ribs for 5-10 minutes. Serve them up. Be everyone’s instant BFF.

* Originally from


Grandma's Best Cornbread


1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.

2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


World's Best Lasagna


1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

* We will serve salad with the lasagna.

Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli
via: Creme de la Creme blog

1.5 pounds flank steak, thinly sliced and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 cup beef broth
⅔ cup low sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
4 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons corn starch + 4 tablespoons cold water
Learn Basic Steps for Safe Cooking

Grease the inside of a slow cooker. Add steak, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours.

Minutes before serving, uncover the slow cooker. In a small bowl whisk corn starch and water until dissolved. Add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and allow to cook another 20-25 minutes.

Just before serving, place broccoli in a large Tupperware, fill with ½ inch of water, and place the lid on in an off-set manner so that the container can vent. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Drain, stir broccoli into slow cooker, and serve.

For a bit of a spicy kick, add a full 1-2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes!

* This will be served over rice.


Easy Garlic Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
additional herbs and spices, as desired

Preheat oven to 450°F Line a baking dish or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.
In small sauté pan, sauté garlic with the oil until tender.
Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Add additional herbs and spices as desired.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. .Place breasts in a prepared baking dish and cover with the garlic and brown sugar mixture.
Bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, or until juices run clear. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.

* This will be served with roasted Brussel Sprouts with a balsamic vinegar glaze.


One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies
via: Cooking Classy Blog

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Italian salad dressing (I recommend using Kraft light Italian it's the perfect consistency for this and it's what I used)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 1/4 lbs chicken breast tenderloins
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends, chopped into 2-inch pieces (look for thinner stalks. Green beans are another good option)
1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

In a mixing bowl whisk together salad dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place chicken evenly in skillet. Cook about 6 - 7 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking, until chicken has cooked through (meanwhile, chop asparagus and tomatoes). Add half the dressing mixture to skillet and rotate chicken to evenly coat. Transfer chicken to a large plate or a serving platter while leaving sauce in skillet. Add asparagus and carrots to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer veggies to plate or platter with chicken.

Add remaining dressing mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes to chicken and veggies and drizzle dressing mixture in pan over top (or return chicken and veggies to pan and toss to coat).

Recipe source: adapted from BHG

* We will served roasted red potatoes with this meal.


via: Gimme Some Oven Blog


12 ounces ziti (or any pasta shape)
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
1 batch alfredo sauce (see below)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% low fat)
(optional toppings: additional shredded Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley)


1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk (I used 1%)
3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11x7-inch or 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.


Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.


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