‘Tis The Season To Bake Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ll get to writing down a recipe I recently tried for the most delicious Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies I have ever tasted (I’m thinking it’s the cup of BUTTER that makes them so delish) but first I have to share some cute kid things. For those who don’t care… hang tight…. the recipe is coming. There are some who read this who do care about the cute things my kids do and say and since I care, and I’m the author, read quick or skip ahead.

Little Miss is totally into dancing. She moves the furniture to the side and spins and hops and does what she calls her “signature move” which involves a skip around the room with swinging arms to the latest fun top 40 kid friendly stuff I can find. Here’s the thing, Little Miss loves to dance but has refused to take one step into a real dance class. At first her excuse was her hatred for tights – now it’s her desire to have no structure in her dancing. As she says, “Mom, the music comes on and I have no decision on how my body moves. It just does its own thing.” Her own thing is a joy to watch.

Buddy’s vocabulary is blooming. I LOVE what he calls things. We were decorating our Christmas tree last week. He really liked putting up these little red glass ball ornaments we have and was adamant that no one else should hang even one. “Mom, I’m in charge of the red Christmas dots, OK? I’ll do them all.” DOTS – isn’t that great? The other phrase he came up with that I think should go mainstream is calling snow boarding snow surfing instead. I think that’s just as accurate a description and I will now add that to my repertoire of Buddy phrases.

OK, so here’s the recipe for really delicious Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies. I got this recipe from the back of a package of Gold Medal Unbleached Flour. These cookies are quick to whip up, they are drops so there is no rolling or cutting or slicing, and everyone thought they were yum-o.

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Oven 350F. Beat brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg until well blended. Add oats, flour, baking soda and salt (I pre-mixed these before adding); mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2″ apart.

3. Bake 9-11 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly then remove to cooling racks.

These are moist and chewy and buttery and hard not to keep getting into. Enjoy!

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Praying A Bubble

On Little Miss’s first day of school – not little Church preschool – but big elementary school, I remember dropping her off and going to the grocery store with Buddy. I was glad she was going to school, glad she was doing her own thing, but she was so small (we’re talking 4-years-old attending a pre-K program) compared to those big 10-year-old’s walking next to her and the thought of this little, little kid navigating the world with out me just made me feel weird. This little girl that I spent so much time with would now be doing so many things without me – and her life which was all mine to view was taking a step away from me. That weird feeling didn’t last long when I saw how happy she was and by the time Buddy went to school I was all “blow me a kiss and have fun!”

Today when I dropped my kids off at school I had that same weird feeling. What it comes right down to is a feeling of being out of control. My kiddos were heading off to their lives and I couldn’t watch over them. And that’s really it. The shootings at that Connecticut school last Friday have just shaken me on so many levels. My son is in first grade and I see the students who have died in Newtown as my son’s friends and the parents of those kids as my peers.

When the news was just hitting the media on Friday my brother and I were messaging each other.  He said, “angels and demons live among us” and that thought has just been tumbling around my brain. It seems like we saw both of those on Friday. My brother and I are both teachers as well as parents of small children.  We both know that if we were working, and a situation like that occurred, we’d do everything we could to keep our students safe – even the ones that are a pain in the neck – because not only do teachers teach, they love.

When my kids walked away from me this morning I prayed. I prayed a big bubble of safety around them – like the love that lives in the very skin of Harry Potter from his mother protecting him from the evil Voldemort or the force field that Bella from Twilight can shield those she loves with. I know the force of my love can’t protect them like in a novel, but the thought of that helps me cope.

I still believe that school is a safe place for my kids to be. I know this weird feeling will pass but I think I’ll continue to pray that bubble of safety around those I love for a long time to come.

Buddy Says. Little Miss Does.

Six-year-old boy is great! It’s full of energy, questions, and, I’m finding, a plethora of quirky uses of the English language.

Ignore the devil eyes - this was a sweet moment.

Ignore the devil eyes – this was a sweet moment.

This is what Buddy has come up with lately.

1. If you get a boost on to your bed and fall forward on your face you do a face planet.

2. If you are walking rightwards you are going the opposite of backwards.

3. If you are pulling something hot out of the oven or need to touch a hot pan grab a pair of kitchen hands. This is my favorite thing he has come up with and my oven mitts will forever now be called kitchen hands.

7-year-old girl is full of doing.  I’m amazed at what Little Miss is doing and also freaked out a little by the amount of what looks like hormonal drama that comes from her.

When she’s not having a freak out mess this is what she’s up to.

1. She can operate the toaster oven. The toaster oven has 3 nobs and a button and she gets all of them to the exact place they need to be.

2. When her grandparents were babysitting she took charge of the 3 remotes it often takes to get our TV up and running and found the evening news for them.

3. She’s reading long, long, long chapter books. I find her curled up on the couch, in her bed, on a chair reading. She reads to herself, she reads to Buddy, she reads to me and to My Man.

Every once in a while I’m able to take a deep breath in and bask in the wonderfulness that my kids bring to my life. Of course by the time I exhale I have the dance of he did, she said, MOM! chaos running around my home again.

What to do With 12 Pounds of Apples? Apple Crunch!

About a month ago the kids and I had to drop off My Man at the airport. He was going to be gone for 3 weeks and to take all of our minds off the fact that we would be missing him terribly I decided that directly after airport drop off we should enjoy the splendid fall day and go pick some apples.

In all my 41 years I had never been apple picking. Sure, I used to pick crab apples off the tree behind my cousin’s house to chuck at my brother, but heading to an actual orchard and frolicking among the trees I just had never done. I did a little googling and I found a place west of my home that still had apples on the trees. It was called Stribling Orchards. We had a super time. We started off by buying hot dogs wrapped in foil and ate them at a picnic table with some Cokes to chase them down (no way could I do some serious apple picking with an empty stomach). We then checked out the orchard map and decided it was just a pain in the butt to try for a certain kind of apple so we just wandered – and picked all the apples we could reach. Throughout the orchard there were folks with long apple picking contraptions that we did not have. What we did have was a mom who was willing to hoist a 50 pound kid up on her shoulders to reach higher. Little Miss, Buddy and I had a great time! We picked red apples and green apples and little apples and big apples and by the time we ended and weighed our haul we had picked 12 pounds of apples.

Most people automatically go for the apple pie solution when faced with this many apples, but since I had received a fancy pants Le Crueset french oven for my last birthday I decided to put it to work. I made a recipe called Apple Crunch that I found in a little book called 101 Things to Do With a Dutch Oven (which is actually the same thing as a french oven). It was easy to make, every one liked it, and I would have to say it is best served with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crunch

Dutch Oven Size – 12 inch

  • 15 – 16 apples, peeled and sliced (I used half that amount)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1 TBS cornstarch

Topping:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter

Place apples in Dutch oven sprayed with nonstick spray. In a saucepan, heat sugar, water, vanilla, and cornstarch until thickened. Pour evenly over apples.

Combine topping ingredients and then sprinkle over the apples. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes.

Kid Quotes and The Chore Hour

My family is awesome. This was the first weekend where chores were part of the agenda. Sure we’d clean up stuff here and there on other weekends – but this weekend we had “The Chore Hour.” The kitchen timer was set for one hour. For 60 minutes the four of us were to be as busy as bees getting as many chores done as we could.

The rules were simple:

1. If you saw something that needed cleaning, picked up, or organized, do it.

2. If you don’t see anything then pull a chore from the chore bag.  

In the hour that we were all working this is what got done: dishwasher loaded and running, a sink full of dishes washed, kitchen counters wiped off, table wiped off, front porch and sidewalk swept, back patio swept, all scuff marks Magic Erased off of walls, baseboards in living room and dining room dusted, load of laundry folded and put away, 3 toilets cleaned, 3 bathroom sinks cleaned,  and 3 bathroom mirrors cleaned. And really – it wasn’t even all 4 of us. My man was out on a run when we started so he didn’t even participate. All those chores got done by myself and the two munchkins (who are just 6 and 7). Little Miss did pitch a bit of a fit when Buddy got to Magic Erase the walls – I guess that is a “fun” chore. All was better when I suggested to her that she could clean the toilets. She was seriously excited to do this!  I happened to walk past the bathroom as she’s wiping away and she exclaims, “I LOVE CLEANING TOILETS!”  We did another 30 minutes on Sunday just for fun and got even more stuff done! I just hope we keep it up.

Now time for some fun kid quotes.

I was bending down in front of Buddy tying his shoes. He was swooshing my hair all around and I say, “are you making me look like a pretty mom?” and he answers, “you look like a mom that doesn’t own a comb.” So much for my beach hair look.

I was lucky enough to sub in a kindergarten classroom last week. Pre-kids, when I was a full-time 8th grade science teacher, never in a million years would I have thought being with kindergarteners would be OK. I guess after living with a couple of them I understand five much better. I laughed all day. They just say awesome stuff. Here’s my favorite quote of the day. We were in the computer lab and the kids were doing a program where they had to create the letters of the alphabet. Some kids were zipping along and others were struggling a bit. I said to a few kids who were moving through without much problems, “you guys are really on a roll.” A few minutes later I over hear a little girl say to the boy next to her as she was working, “I’m doing a roll!” I smile just thinking about the cuteness.

I think my family did a roll this weekend and while nothing will get done next weekend (it’s camping season for us!) at least for now I have 3 clean toilets.

I Can’t Do It All and Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches

I’ve spent the last 7 years being a housewife. When I write 7 years I’m blown away by how long that sounds, especially because those years seem to have passed as quickly as an inhale and exhale. While I still consider myself mostly a housewife, life is changing here in our household. You see, I’ve kind of gone back to work, sort of, a little, just a drop.

Before I had munchkins I was a teacher. My plan was to go back to work when both the kids were in school full-time. Well, both kids were in school full-time last year and I so did not go back to work. Holy cow was life great! Not only were my kids happy hanging out with their friends all day and the teachers they loved, but my life rocked. I could putter around the house, take yoga classes, read a book, watch trashy TV with no one around to judge, meet friends to do stuff, hike in the woods at my pace, and GROCERY SHOP BY MYSELF! As my man said, “you’ve never been more mellow,” and I agree. I can get pretty uptight when I’m trying to juggle too many balls and last year I think I was juggling maybe two.

Well, this year I threw another ball in the mix. I started substitute teaching. For now, this is the perfect match for me. I get to do a job I love on some days and on other days I can continue to have ME time. I really just started doing this last week. I had one job and it didn’t really affect anything. This week I’ve worked two days (and had to turn down one today because I picked up the sinus crud the teacher I was covering for had). Two days doesn’t sound like much, but when one of those days is grocery day and I take these jobs on the spur of the moment, life gets a little messy. We’re chock full of after school activities, and with me and My Man working all day, and then busy evenings (soccer, swimming, girls scouts, boy scouts, blah, blah, blah) we’re eating canned soup and toast if I miss grocery day. It’s all good – no one complains about wonky dinners – but I realize that I do a bunch of stuff around the house every week that just isn’t getting done. There’s dog hair in the corners, and the kid’s sheets need changed, and there’s a sticky spot on the kitchen floor, and our dump spot is covered with piles…. and I’m OK… but I realize why I stopped working when I had the kids. There’s just no way to do it all. Of course I’m not running this ship on my own, my man is a helper, but when the kids were little they just weren’t much. Sure a toddler can play with the Swiffer and get some of that dog hair up, but sometimes toddler help is no help at all.

Buddy and Little Miss are excited that I’m working again. They understand that if I’m at school all day I won’t get all the chores done I normally do and they are willing to pitch in. Isn’t that cool? We had a big conversation this morning about how if, as a family, we all pitch in on the weekends we can get it all done. And I like that. I like that my family is working as a family and roles are shifting as the dynamics change.

Well, busy families need a quick meal. I found this recipe in some magazine – I have no clue which, this was a ripped out page that’s been sitting in my “to make” file for months. This is a recipe for a Barbecue Chicken sandwich topped with coleslaw that is so good My Man and I had to duke it out who got the leftovers for lunch the next day!

The recipe calls for rotisserie chicken, but I don’t like to use that. Although it is delish I find it too salty for my tastes. To make your own super shredable chicken use my crock pot method – put some boneless chicken in a crock pot (frozen even works) with a little water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high for 3 hours and done. The meal itself (minus the chicken cooking time) takes about 20 minutes to make. LOVE that!

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbs honey mustard
  • 2 tbs water
  • 3/4 tsp chile powder
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (I used dried onions)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken (or cook your own)
  • 3 tbs mayo
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups packaged coleslaw
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 6 hamburger buns – toasted
  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes. Combine sauce and chicken.
  2. Combine may, vinegar and sugar. Add coleslaw and onions, toss.
  3. Place chicken mixture on a bun, top with coleslaw, and devour!

PS I found the coleslaw to be a bit too vinegary on its own – but it’s transformed to perfection when eaten on the sandwich.

My Man is A-Traveling and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

My man is out-of-town. It’s the first of 3 major trips he’ll be making this fall before he embarks on a 6 month adventure/mission/job/departure to parts across the world. I’ve known he was leaving since June and it’s one of those bits of news that is always gnawing away at the back of my head. I can’t shake a sense of disequilibrium – of being off – of not being quite myself. He leaves in December.

My man and I have a good marriage. We love, we argue, we laugh, we love some more, we live, we’re happy – together – and while I know our marriage is strong enough to hold up for a time apart, I just don’t like it very much.

Little Miss and Buddy are working through figuring out how to handle living with just me. Buddy is OK – although has become a bit more baby than I think a six-year-old should be. Little Miss is a mess. She’s very angry sometimes, very sad others, and then back to normal. All this has been with My Man coming home for dinner each night, playing with them on the weekends, and tucking them in at night. I’m pretty nervous when the actual separation occurs that Buddy will start crawling around sucking his thumb and Little Miss will explode into a super nova of 7-year-old girl anxiety.

Then there’s me. I let myself worry about who is going to hold the ladder when I have to clear the gutters of the little maple trees that grow there each spring, but I don’t let myself worry about who’s going to snuggle with me each night. I let myself worry about who is going to be the kid’s reprieve when I’m grumpy or need a mom break, but I don’t let myself worry about who’s going to kiss me on the forehead when I’m feeling blue, or sick, or just because.

This week is the beginning of Little Miss, Buddy and I getting used to it being just us. So far, chocolate chip pancakes for dinner has made it all right.

Mulitgrain Chocolate Chip Pancakes (May 25, 2012 – All You)

  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk (but I had to add an additional 1/2 cup because my batter was too thick)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips (mini are awesome because there are more chocolate bits per pancake bite)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a small bowl and then pour into dry. Mix until combined. Let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Pre-heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with oil. Cook the pancakes – 2 or 3 minutes on the first side. Flip and 1 minute on the other.

3. Eat with butter and syrup or do as Little Miss does and spray whipped cream on one and eat it like a taco.