Saturday, August 16, 2014

Freezer Cooking: Sweet Sloppy Joes

I have tried many sloppy joe recipes in my lifetime.  I love sloppy joe and am always willing to try another recipe that comes my way.  However, lately I keep going back to this particular recipe.  Possibly because it is super simple and I can make up a big batch to freeze. This sloppy joe recipe comes together with a sweet sauce simmered together for an amazing flavor.  Be sure to buy jumbo soft buns, top with cheddar cheese if you would like and serve up along side some tots.  This is definitely one filling meal!

Plan to make this recipe for dinner and then freeze one entree for another night.  I like to make the recipe and a half so I can freeze two extra entrees instead of one (I have included that portion size below too).  I have also cooked up the meat, onions and peppers and then prepared everything in the crock pot instead of simmering on the stove.  Set the crock pot on high for 2 hours or low for 4 and then divide the entree.  Be sure to put the mixture into freezer bags or containers. 

Sweet Sloppy Joes

Yield: 2 entrees, 5 servings each


2 pounds lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper, or red
4 teaspoons yellow mustard
3 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1 one-gallon freezer bag or container, labeled

On hand for each entrée:
5 hamburger buns


1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef; drain liquid.
2. Add onion and green pepper. Stir in garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Divide mixture evenly and place one entree in a  freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

To Serve:
1. Defrost sloppy joe mixture on the stove over medium heat. Serve on hamburger buns.
Freeze up to: 4 months

Sweet Sloppy Joes

Yield: 3 entrees, 5 servings each


3 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper, or red
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 1/2 cups ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

2 one-gallon freezer bags or containers, labeled

On hand for each entrée:
5 hamburger buns


1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef; drain liquid.
2. Add onion and green pepper. Stir in garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Divide mixture evenly and place two entrees in a  freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

To Serve:
1. Defrost sloppy joe mixture on the stove over medium heat. Serve on hamburger buns.
Freeze up to: 4 months

Notes:  When I make the 3 entree portion, I divide the hamburger mixture between two pans to cook and then place the meat in a crock pot.  Then I cook the onions and bell peppers and add that to the crock pot along with the sauce and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.  

Recipe adapted from MomsWhoThink

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Trip to the ISTE conference in Atlanta

International Society for Technology in Education

The Head of Collegiate took the Lower School staff to Atlanta for 5 days to attend the ISTE conference. I almost had to miss the trip due to severe back pain 5 days before, but with many prayers and rest I was still able to go.  It was a huge conference of about 18,000 people all focused on technology.  Since the school I am going to will be doing the One-to-One Apple I-Pad technology initiative after the upcoming school year, a lot of the staff focused on the sessions using I-Pads.

The sessions I attended were full of great information from teachers on free Apps that are education friendly, engaging and easy to use.  I was so excited after my sessions and feeling anxious about getting into the classroom to start using them.

The trip was also a great way to meet some of the staff and get to know them before school started.  At first I was a little worried I would be by myself, because my second grade teammates were unable to attend.  However, two of the first grade teachers took me under their wings and made sure I felt included!  What I found after 5 days is that all of the staff attending seemed to be really nice and I think I will love working with them.  Such a great feeling to have!

We did not have a lot of time to do other things on our trip, but a couple of things really interesting happened while we were traveling.  First, we found out that you need to make sure you count your money.  When your total is around $9.00 and you give a $50.00 bill your change should be more than $1.00.  Second, apparently restaurants have stopped giving coins back as change and keep it themselves.  Third, two days into the trip I lost the food fund money I was given and never found it, which I felt really bummed about.  I could not bring myself to actually pay $10- 15.00 for most meals or $4.00 for a bottle of water and I had to become really resourceful with the snacks I brought on the trip and take free peanut butter from the Starbucks counter, split meals and carry around an empty water bottle.  Thank you Alisa :).
If you are interested, one workshop I attended focused on Primary Apps.  The presenters are current teachers in Canada and were really great to listen to.  I have included the link to their page of suggested apps to use in the classroom, links to each teachers home page as well and a few screen shots of some of the apps.

iPad Apps: Apps to document with photos, tell stories, draw and record voice 
Presenter: Kathy Cassidy
Presenter: Karen Lirenman

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Baby #2 is on the way!

We are expecting our second child and its a baby boy!  My husband and I were not expecting to get pregnant so soon, but it is such a blessing.  Sarah will be a big sister and will have someone to play with.  We are so excited about expanding our family! 
James and I knew we would be happy with a boy or a girl.  Now that we will also have a boy it feels good.  At this time we have no names picked out.  It took us forever to agree on Sarah's name.  I really have no idea for a boy's name, but we have some time to decide.

Our baby boy is due November 15.  However, due to the last pregnancy and the complications I had, my doctor recommends a scheduled C-Section about a week before.  I did not want to have another C-Section, my recovery was so hard and painful.  Though, she assured me that this one would not be as difficulty of a recovery because I would not have labored for many hours beforehand.  She also told me that I was a "failure to progress case" and that the chances of me being able to deliver naturally were not high.  In reality, it does not really matter how a precious life comes into the world, just as long as they are healthy.

So, I have about 20 weeks left to go and I will keep you updated on my progress.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Raspberry Chip Ice Cream

My husband and I have shared a love for ice cream ever since our first date at Cold Stone 9 years ago.  I love a variety of ice creams and there are usually 2-3 cartons in our freezer at a time.  I fondly remember the ice cream socials our church had and sitting out in lawn chairs in someone's back yard.    My mom always made homemade ice cream that was more of an ice milk.  It did not freeze well, but that was okay because we never had leftovers.

There is nothing like homemade ice cream and if you have the opportunity to make some yourself you should start with this recipe!  This ice cream is just dreamy. It is so smooth and creamy with a bit of tartness from the raspberry jam and then you are left with chocolately goodness. My mother in-law, husband, and I could not get enough of it.  I will definitely be making this again very soon!

Raspberry Chip Ice Cream

Makes 1 quart

Cut back on the sugar before adding the lemon juice if you are using jam with added sugar, or the ice cream may be too sweet.

3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar  (I used 1/3 cup sugar)
2 cups heavy cream
10 oz quality raspberry jam or preserves (see directions if they are not seedless)
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 oz dark chocolate

Combine whole milk and sugar in a blender and blend until sugar is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients to the blender and pulse until combined.  If you use a jam or preserves with seeds, set a sieve over a medium bowl and push ice cream base through the sieve to remove the seeds.  Place ice cream base in the refrigerate and chill until completely cold, about 1 to 2 hours.

Once chilled, pour base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacture's instructions.  When ice cream is near completion (about 5 minutes before end of churning), use a double boiler to melt dark chocolate until completely smooth.  Transfer melted chocolate to a small Ziploc bag.  Keep warm.

Near the end of churning (when ice cream has just begun to pull away from the sides of the cansiter), cut a small hole in the corner of the chocolate bag and slowly drizzle a small stream of warm choclate in the churning ice cream.  If the ice cream isin't moving very well, the chocolate may be getting caught on the dasher, so move the ice cream away from the dasher using a spoon.  Complete churning and transfer to a freezer-safe container.  Place plastic wrap or parchment paper over ice cream to prevent ice crystals and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

 Recipe slightly adapted from:  Scoop Adventures

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sarah's 1st Birthday Party

A few friends and family joined us in celebrating Sarah's first birthday and it turned out great.  I decided to go with a sunshine theme of bright yellow, orange and pink colors.  For the invitations, I  focused on Sarah's feet and her cute little legs since she was already walking at the time. 
It was a noon party so the menu was grilled hot dogs (an easy food for Sarah), mini mac and cheese bites, deviled eggs, chips, carrots with dill dip, and fruit cups.  I wanted the food to fit the theme colors.  For dessert I made strawberry cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting and vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting.  My dear friend Amy came over the night before to help prep some of the food and decorations and I was incredibly thankful for her help and for taking pictures during the party!

I displayed Sarah's monthly pictures on ribbon.  It was fun to look back through the months and see how she had grown.
I found this adorable serving tray at Sam's Club.  The very first time I saw it, I knew I wanted it and my husband said I did not need another serving dish.  Perhaps he was right, but when I went back to Sam's the next time I got it anyway. 
Sarah had so much fun, soaking up all of the attention and smiling at everyone!  She was truly a little beam of sunshine during her birthday party.  When it came time to opening presents she wanted to do it.  She loved taking the paper off the gifts and finding out what she got.  It was such a joy to see her so happy and in great spirits. 

For Sarah's birthday cake, I made a white cake and decorated it with rose swirls in yellow buttercream frosting.  I decided to go simple on the cake, but still pretty enough for my sweet baby girl.  She was a little slow to eat it at first and then started to dig right in with her foot.  It was hilarious.  I could not have asked for a better day and I am thankful for our friends and family who joined us.
Sarah, you are our sunshine!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My husband loves rhubarb pie and grew up on Sunday pies.  Some of his favorites are peach, apple, cherry, gooseberry and so on.  Pie is not my favorite dessert, but I soon learned I could make this man swoon by making a homemade pie.  So I make pies.  We picked up some fresh rhubarb from the farmers market and I decided to make a strawberry rhubarb pie.  Rhubarb is a bit tart so I like to add the sweetness of strawberries.  My husband loved this sweet and tart pie and longed for it every day until, sadly, it was gone. If you have never tried rhubarb, give it a try while rhubarb and strawberries are still in season!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Yield: 9 or 10 inch pie


Makes enough crust for 10 inch
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
7-8 tablespoons cold water


2 1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb*
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries (in larger pieces) **
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, small cubes

Crust Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degress F.  Measure flour and salt into bowl.  Cut in shortening thoroughly.  Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl. Gather dough into a ball and divide in half.  With a floured surface use a rolling pin, to roll dough about 2 inches larger than pie dish.  Roll out crust into pie dish and put in the refrigerator.  Roll out top crust and prepare filling.

Filling Preparation:

Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, zest and juice of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl.  Pour into chilled crust.  Dot the top of the filling with the butter.  Roll out the top layer of the crust over the filling and crimp to seal edges.  Cut off over hanging crust with a knife.  Collar with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 45-50 minutes, or until the filing starts bubbling.  Let cool for 2-3 hours or longer before cutting.

* I used a rhubarb that is partly green and red.  Red rhubarb is sweeter if you find it.
**If using frozen strawberries only partially defrost just enough so you can cut them.
A pie that is cut before it has completely cooled will be runny.

Source:  Filling: slightly adapted from Food Crust: Betty Crocker's Cookbook

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My First Year Reflections: Motherhood

Raising a baby is hard work.  Entertaining, watching, feeding, caring,'s hard work.  Though, not the hard physical "I just moved my whole house" hard, but the long dreary exhausting "this never ends" hard.  However, when Sarah smiles, which is most of the time, or comes over to give me a hug or squeals and does a little dance when music is playing, it melts my heart and for a moment I forget just how tired I really am.

Raising a child has presented a huge learning curve for me.  That is why I believe the first birthday milestone is really in celebration of the parents surviving the first year!  I have learned so much about parenting, Sarah, myself, and my marriage through this time.  These are a few of my thoughts:

1.  Sarah has an on-the-go personality just like me.  That's great, but she only sits content for less than 5 minutes before she has to be moving again.   This means car rides are no fun, sitting in church has yet to happen, and getting any work done while she is awake is quite difficult. 

2. Sarah loves to smile.  She started smiling at 2 months and though many people doubted she was actually smiling, she was born that way! She is sunshine, smiling at almost anyone she sees. She is such a joyful child and I praise God for that!

3. Learning to say no is harder with your own child. I run a very structured classroom and have no problem taking something from a student.  Sarah will fuss if I take something away from her and I almost instantly give it back to her - I am such a sucker!  I have been doing better, because James has been getting on to me but it is quite funny nonetheless. 

4. I have had to let many things go that I used to do pre-Sarah.  This fact has been hard for me to accept.  I have to remember the season of life I am in right now is different than what it used to be and that is okay. My priority right now is to love God and my family more than anything else. 

5. I am ashamed to even admit this, but date nights have gone out the window.  It is something my husband and I have been well aware of and are currently working on changing.  Since we don't have family here, we have not had the opportunity to drop Sarah off at Grandma's house.  The few times we have asked friends, they have been unable to help and admittedly I kind of quit asking.  I would definitely say this has affected our marriage and makes me tear up just thinking about it.  As I mentioned, we have a goal to work on this and I pray there is change!

6. I have loved baby-led weaning.  Not having to feed Sarah before we eat has been really nice.  At times,  I still have to think about what Sarah is going to eat, due to our meal not being the best for her.  But she mostly eats what we are eating.  Going out with Sarah is much easier now that we started taking her chair with us.  I have also gotten really quick with clean-up and it is still so fun to watch her eat.

7. My husband is truly an amazing father!  My heart is filled with so much joy watching him play with Sarah.  He is definitely a hands on dad and I could not be more thankful for that.  He does love to pester her at times which I have to get on him about, but more attention is better than none.  I think he instantly bonded with Sarah due to my c-section and me not being able to do a lot with her other than nurse.  My husband can also rock her to sleep and I have yet to master that.  Sarah loves her daddy and he loves her so much!

8. At times I really wish we had family that lived close.  I wish we had someone to come over quickly so I could run to the store.  Someone who could help get the laundry done or make us dinner.  I wish we could drop Sarah off and go to a movie or when we just need some time to get our energy back.  When all three of us got the stomach flu last winter I realized just how hard it can be not having family near.  The people who can see you at your absolute worst and still love you just the same, family.  I have had to rely on God and prayer for strength, and I know that our family in some ways have become better at managing life and the difficult times it brings.  However, I will not deny that I have had many moments of weakness.  

9. Lastly, I absolutely, without a doubt, love being a mother to Sarah.  She has and continues to bring me so much joy, even when I am down.  I could not imagine my world without her.  So, no matter how hard raising a child is, or how much I want to cry or give in because I feel like I am failing, there is beauty and grace in all of it.  I just have to remember to slow down and take time to embrace the beauty in what seems like a hurried mess.  I have been given one of the greatest gifts from God.  I love you Sarah Elizabeth.