Monthly Archives: September 2013

Take a moment..

A lot of times I feel like I get really caught up in what is going on with my own life I don’t take time to be grateful and live in the moment. On a long bike ride Saturday morning while listening to an episode of Paleo Magazine Radio, George from Civilized Caveman Creations was talking about his campaign for a 29 year old man in need of a heart transplant. He described how he felt compelled to help this man who was in need of a heart transplant but had medical bills stacking up.  It reminded me of a friend who is in a similar medical situation. He is a friend of my husband’s who I don’t know well, but I know deserves a fair shot at getting the medical care he deserves.

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My point is, I felt pretty crummy about stressing about closing on our house and agonizing over whether or not to eat a donut when there are people who don’t even have the option of living the healthy life they deserve. That being said, I wanted to include the link to my friend Pat’s donation page. Hopefully one of my 5 followers may feel compelled to give a little to his cause. He is awaiting a liver transplant, and you can read more about his story on the website. I know I don’t have that many followers on my blog (sorry Pat!), but I figured sharing it was better than not sharing it.

Even if you don’t donate, take the time to be thankful for the things you have, or think about a cause feel is worth donating to. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own daily lives, but just taking a few moments to look around and be thankful for the gorgeous fall sunshine through the trees and all the other beautiful things in our lives is truly worth it.

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Homemade Chicken Wings 3 ways!

Last night I had a serious craving for wings….something about Friday night really makes me not feel like cooking. Last night I was driving home and was really tempted to convince my husband to go to our favorite local wing place (Randy’s Up the River) to grab some wings and Friday night beers. However I knew it would be much more economical to make it at home and just grab a six pack of beers. So this is precisely what I did!

When I went to the grocery store they didn’t have wings in the meat section, and I had to ask the deli if they had any….they seriously looked at me like I had 8 heads. Why? After getting over their initial puzzlement I left the store with a ziplock bag full of chicken wings. Lol.

I decided to make a variety of flavors. I went with

1. Honey Mustard

2. Traditional Buffalo

3. Smoky Spice blend from Practical Paleo.

I also tried to re-create the sweet potato fries that we had last time we went to Randy’s….last night I whipped up some carrot fries. Just as good!

I had 15 wings (an assortment of wings and legs). First, I rinsed them in the sink and patted them dry with paper towels. Then I melted about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a bowl and tossed the wings. I baked all of them plain except the ones that got the dry rub. In retrospect next time I might try putting the sauce on THEN baking them. I put them on a cookie sheet (sprayed) and I baked them at 400 degrees for about a half hour (Or until the internal temp reached 165).

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Honey Mustard Sauce:

2 tablespoons of your favorite mustard

2 tablespoons raw honey

2 tablespoons water

1/2 of a garlic clove

salt and pepper

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This local mustard we love made them a little spicy as well.

 

Buffalo Sauce:

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1/2 hot sauce (I love Frank’s Red Hot)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

As mentioned, I baked them in the oven and then when they came out I tossed them with the sauces. Except for the smoky spice blend ones. Those I dry rubbed before they went in the oven, and they came out great! They were my favorite. Practical Paleo = My Bible.

 

 

Okay…so maybe they weren’t as good as Randy’s…..but it definitely satisfied the craving!

Wings where we live (in WNY) are really good since we are kind of close to Buffalo. I have yet to visit the “famous” Anchor Bar or Duff’s though.

What are your favorite type of chicken wings?

Have you ever tried to make them at home?

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Review: Bilinski Gluten Free Sausage

Hellllooooooo. I figure I might as well do this post before I get really busy with moving and such. We are still working on closing on our house…to say the least it’s been stressful but hopefully there’s an end in sight.

A while back I received an amazing package of sausage (hah) from the folks at Bilinski. They specialize in gluten free and natural/organic casing-free chicken sausage. Friends looked at me weird when I explained how I had to run home because I had a shipment of sausage on my front stoop. I was way more excited than one should be about a package of sausage- but hey! It’s food! Everything that I get excited about pretty much revolves around food.

When I busted open the package I was pleasantly surprised at the variety I received:

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They sent me a nice selection of the ‘skinny’, organic and the natural lines.  All of their sausages are gluten free, have no artificial preservatives and are from chickens free of antibiotics. This is from the company website:

“Nearly everything we make is natural or certified organic. We purchase local ingredients and buy from businesses close to home whenever possible. We carefully examine every ingredient and practice to make sure it promotes what we believe in. Our products are nitrite- and preservative-free, and are made from meats that are raised in clean, comfortable conditions with integrity – with no antibiotics, no animal by-products in their feed, and no hormones.”

Sounds like a great company to me!

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The first night I got them I fired up the grill to eat the “skinny” line’s hot Italian sausage.

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Gross looking, but stellar meal of braised cabbage, roasted peppers and sausage.

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The skinny line was alright but the regular line I enjoyed better. There really is only ten more calories in the regular ones so what’s the point if the taste is way better?

Although I really enjoyed the ‘skinny’ apples and cinnamon breakfast sausage alongside one of my Saturday morning breakfasts.!

I ate the Cajun/Andouille version with this amazing meal:

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Heirloom tomato salad, grilled sweet potatoes and yellow beans. Tonight we ate the mild Italian sausage with some braised red cabbage and beans. I think this flavor has been my favorite so far. I still have one more in the freezer but I wanted to get this review up in case I got too busy once we move.

 

Obviously I rarely eat any kind of sausage because the quality is so sketchy. It’s great to find a brand that tastes great and you know you can trust. I hate sausages that are really greasy and clearly loaded with unknown ingredients .There really aren’t too many other brands that I would buy similar sausages from. Most of them have lots of added sugar, gluten and nitrites/nitrates. So thumbs up to this brand! I enjoyed all of them and would definitely recommend them. I actually saw them in the store the SAME day I received an email from the company saying they would send me some, so it was ironic. I will definitely be picking some up in the future.

**Just a reminder that I did receive the sausages complimentary but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.**

What’s your favorite way to eat sausage?

Have you bought a house? How long and drawn out was the closing date?

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Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Squaaaaaash! You might know I’m obsessed with it. Side not: I tried Delicata Squash yesterday for the first time. It was ‘meh’.

Acorn squash and butternut squash are probably my favorites. The farmer’s market this past couple of weeks has been brimming with amazing-ness. I even got a couple of pastured pork chops this week. They were unreal.

This is a dish I made last week (just getting along to blogging about it now). I kind of just thought it up randomly. I received some delicious chicken sausages from Bilinski (full review coming soon) and decided to use these to stuff the acorn squash I got from the farmer’s market.

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Serves 2! Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 40 mins

1 medium acorn squash

1 package of Italian sausage (approx 1/2-3/4 lb)

1/2 of a red bell pepper

1 small onion

2 cloves of garlic

3-4 tablespoons chicken broth

1 tablespoon fat of choice ( I use lard or coconut oil)

Spices: salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, dash of cayenne, 1/2 tbsp curry powder

1. I got a head start on the cooking of the acorn squash to cut my cooking time by cutting it in half, seeding it and drizzling it with olive oil and salt and pepper. I then popped it in a 375 degree oven while I prepped my veggies. This took about 15-20 minutes.

 

Squash: annoying but worth it.

2. While squash was pre-cooking, I chopped the veggies and garlic. I put in a tablespoon of lard (you can use any fat) and let the garlic get aromatic. Then after 1 minute I added the peppers and onions. After that I added the chopped up sausage (if you have sausage in a package just place it in the pan and brown it).

3. After meat is browned (or warmed up if your sausage is pre-cooked), add in the chicken broth and spices and let come to a soft boil. Turn the mixture down and let simmer until slightly thickened. Check on your squash and take it out of the oven. At this point after 15 minutes it should be half cooked

4. Place the sausage and veggie mixture in the squash. Add some salt and pepper to the top (or maybe even some cheese if you eat it!).

5. Cook for approx 15 more minutes or until the outer shell of the squash can be punctured with a fork.

My husband would have loved cheese melted over this, but we didn’t have any. I absolutely loved scraping the squash out of the skin. Omg I love squash. And it’s only September.

 

What is your favorite type of squash??

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Wedding: Ceremony and Bridal Party

Basically right now I’m doing everything in my power to avoid writing my thank you notes. So I decided to meander over to the computer and blog more about the wedding.

We left off after the first look- again highly recommended for anyone who’s getting married soon!

Our ceremony was right by the shore of Lake Ontario. It had started down pouring earlier in the day but cleared up and ended up being a beautiful afternoon. Everyone was in awe of howgorgeous it was. It was perfect

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My BFF from high school!

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Our flower girl and ring bearer:

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I was so nervous!!!!

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My parents

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We did some family pictures after the ceremony that took like 10 minutes. I was SO over doing pictures after that. I hardly even wanted to do sunset pictures! I don’t know how people do hours of it. Looking back on it I briefly wished I had more, but in retrospect the day was spent enjoying myself and not worrying about pictures. Plus when I went to print them I realized I had more than enough.

 

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Looking at these is so fun!!! Next up: Reception and details

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Paleo Cereal!

I don’t even know how I’m having time to write this blog post right now….I am actually waiting for my water to boil so I can start dinner. The first week of school has been stressful. I don’t wanna talk about it.

I accidently got sidetracked Pinterest-ing pumpkin recipes and forgot to start dinner until my husband started complaining he was hungry. Woops.

I am so ready for this pumpkin onslaught. I was going to wait until October but I just couldn’t resist. I have a couple of recipes planned for this weekend. This is what I look forward to. Last night I made pancakes for breakfast (for today and tomorrow) and they were glorious.

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Practical Paleo is the best book ever. I tried to add it to this box that I was packing for when we move, and I have already packed it and unpacked it about 3 times. I use it way too often.

How does everyone feel about football? It’s on ALL THE TIME. Annoying.

Anyways, cereal. It’s really good. I could easily eat a whole box. Cheerios, Kashi, Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Brain. I mean it’s so good. Buuuuuut it’s nutritionally crap. It’s sugar in a bowl. And expensive. So I’ve cut it out of my life. I still miss it! I’ve been dancing around the idea of making a Paleo cereal for awhile. I finally did. So good. I was worried about not feeling full from it for long, but that wasn’t an issue. It filled me up all the way until lunch. And it was easy and fast. Here’s my version:

Paleo Almond Cereal

2 tablespoons almonds

2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

              (I roasted mine a day earlier in the oven with honey and cinnamon.)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/3 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup water

1/2 banana**

handful of blueberries**

**You could add whatever fruit you wanted, this is what I had on hand.

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Put the coconut milk in a bowl and add your chia seeds. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes and thicken (I was curling my hair while this was happening).

Take 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin seeds and your almonds and pulse in the food processor a few times. Decide how “chunky” you want it. I didn’t grind mine to a pulp but it resembled granola.

Place the mixture and the rest of the seeds into the bowl with the chia seeds and milk once it’s thickened and add your fruit on top. Add water to your desired consistency. You could also add a sprinkle or cinnamon or honey to the top for sweetness.

Yum!

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What cereal do you miss the most? Or do you eat it still?

Are you excited or already sick of pumpkin??

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Paleo Game Day Eats: Fire Roasted Red Pepper Poppers

I almost accidently types poopers while writing this title.

Weekends go by way too fast when you’re actually working :-/. That being said, I appreciate the free time much more. I’ve been running around like a crazy person cooking, cleaning and packing all morning.

I feel like I over-did it on the non-paleo food items yesterday which prompted me to be prepared with a football game day snack. Mentally I don’t have a problem with straying from a paleo diet a couple of times a week but physically I was really paying for it. It really reminds me why I love eating this way. Normally I would want to scarf down as much buffalo chicken dip possible but I restrained myself and went with this paleo friendly snack to enjoy for the game. I think I like the idea of liking football more than I actually like football. I wish I could sit down and actually watch the whole game. But it gets boring. I like going to games. For now I’ll just enjoy the food. This recipe is really easy and doesn’t take a lot of ingredients. It would  probably be good with some cheese melted over it or dipped in sour cream if you want as well.

 

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Poppers

paleo hot pepper poppers

Makes: 12 servings Cook Time: 30 minutes total

1 1/2  (or two small…mine were huge) Red Bell Peppers

6 strips of bacon (I like Applegate Farms)

1 small cooked chicken breast

red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Also, light your grill if you plan on roasting the peppers before baking. It’s not really necessary but adds flavor.

2. Chop red bell pepper into large chunks about 1” thick boats. I got twelve pieces out of 1 1/2 bell peppers.

3. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper.

4. Lay pepper pieces on the grill and close the lid. Cook until slightly charred, about 8 minutes. (You can skip this step and just pop them in the oven raw if you want, they will just take longer).

5. Break your cooked chicken breast into 12 bite sized pieces. Separate each bacon slice lengthwise into two pieces.

6. When your peppers are done let them cool (I didn’t wait ‘cause I was hungry). Place the piece of chicken in the pepper boat and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Wrap the strip of bacon around to hold it all together.

 

7. Repeat and place in a baking dish. Bake for approx 25 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. If your peppers were not pre-cooked it may take longer.

 

Note: This could also work starting with uncooked chicken, just make sure everything is cooked when you pull it out of the oven. I just had cooked chicken on hand so that’s what I used.

 

Are you a fan of football or just the food?

How do you stay healthy on game day?

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Wedding: First Look

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In my wedding traditions you should skip post, I mentioned we were seeing each other before the ceremony to do a first look at take pictures to save time.

Let me just say: doing the pictures beforehand… BEST DECISION EVER.

You need to do this, if you’re having a reception that’s immediately following the ceremony at the same venue and are limited on time. I can’t even fathom trying to fit pictures in if I had not done this. The LAST thing I wanted to do after the ceremony was take more pictures. I just wanted to party!!! I could see doing them after if I had a chunk of time between the ceremony and reception, but other than that no way!!! It was awesome and it didn’t make anything less special. It was great to have a couple of minutes with Austin to be with each other before craziness ensued.

The reason we look like we’re hysterically laughing is because right before I was set to come out, Austin was standing facing the water and my Dad, not realizing this was supposed to be like this special moment, came out and started asking Austin about the weather or something. It was hilarious.

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something was really funny….

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Soon the rest of the bridal party joined us on the rocks by the water

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After a couple more bridal party shots, the photographer did a couple more of us. 

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I think this last one is my FAVORITE picture of the day….

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Oh man, I could look at these photos for hours. And I’m sure you’re bored…..

But seriously, if you got to this website because you Googled first look….DO IT!!!! Don’t think it’s going to make your walk down the isle less special because there’s no way that event could be “not” special. Honestly I was so freaking nervous walking down the isle I don’t even remember it. I do remember the first look. It made it so much more relaxed afterwards.

 

Next up: Ceremony and Bridal Party Pics

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Anchor Activities for Free Time

I survived the first day of school unscathed! I still have three more of my classes tomorrow but it feels good to have the first day under my belt. I honestly can’t remember being more excited and enthusiastic about beginning the year. I guess it’s because for the first time, this isn’t the first year at a new school for me. This is my sixth year of teaching and every single year but this I’ve had to change schools or districts. It was the most underwhelming beginning of the year I’ve ever had- and it was fabulous.

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Calm before the storm

Our kids are receiving 1:1 I-pads TONIGHT and I’ve been busy googling and pinteresting away at all the amazing things I will be able to do. It’s a lot to think about and I know I will start small, but it sure is exciting.

I have really been trying to reflect and make this year great by thinking about mistakes I made last year and how I can change that. I know that the first days of school are really important in setting a precedent and communicating expectations to students. I feel like I have always struggled a bit with classroom management a bit. I constantly think about how I can change and get better at it. Over the last school year I really noticed that having a well run classroom isn’t about being super strict or enforcing consequences or following a stringent rule plan like I read about my first year of teaching in Harry Wong’s book. It’s more about the atmosphere you create in the classroom. I think because this is the smallest school I’ve ever worked at…it’s really easy to gauge the atmosphere and overall ‘aura’ of the class and if the students are actually even listening to you, engaged and on the same page. I think this year instead of focusing so much on giving detentions and following a strict rule plan I will focus on creating a classroom atmosphere where the students feel motivated to do well because a) they like and respect me and b) they really are engaged in what they are doing so they don’t have time to act out. I think the I-pads will be a great launching pad (no pun intended) for this.

Last school year I was really frustrated about the amount of free time kids were given and them wasting it. My kids have a lot of study halls and fluff classes and it’s difficult to motivate them to do anything when there is no grade attached to it. When they claim to be “done” with their homework they have free time and start to act out. I started getting annoyed with this so I created this Anchor Activities requirement in my classroom. A quick Google search for anchor activities will explain what they are- basically activities that students have to complete when they are “done” with the day’s work to prevent idle down time. They are also great for differentiation when you have some kids who finish first and are just sitting around. This will work well in my inclusion classes where I have a range of abilities. I made up 8-10 activities like making flash cards, spelling lists, creative writing prompts, class journals, free rice and Brain Pop. Each activity is worth a certain number of points and students have to get 50 points a marking period.

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Required is their AR (independent reading) quiz and they have to read at least one book per marking period. anchor2   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m explaining the program to students next class. I really want it to go well and help fill up time of students who finish activities early and are just sitting around wasting time. Maybe it will even encourage them to try harder and put more effort into things instead of just rushing to get it done.

 

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Whole Class journals students can write in and respond to others in
 

 

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I’m really looking forward to this year and trying to enjoy every minute of this exciting back to school time!!! I’ve really never felt this not busy to be actually excited and looking forward to the year! It’s a great feeling.

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Wedding: Getting ready

I’ve been obsessing over my wedding photos for the past couple of days. It’s exhausting looking through everything, posting to Facebook, figuring out what I want to get printed, etc. I just want to do everything at once and it’s a bit overwhelming. I decided to post in sections of the wedding. First I’ll be sharing with you pictures of me and my bridesmaids getting ready/preparation shots.

I already shared that we were to take pictures before the ceremony. When we got to the reception site, it was beautiful out. We were set to take pictures at about 3 pm (ceremony at 5) and it started down pouring rain at 2 pm. I was checking the radar like a crazy woman, and anything I said/did from 2-3 pm that day is a bit of a blur….

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Here’s me looking at the rain !

 

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My friend let me borrow her cowboy boots just for the photo shoot. They counted as my “something borrowed”.

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We did our first look (I’ll do a separate post) then came back into the room to freshen up. That’s when I cooled down about the weather (the rain was long gone) and we all relaxed by watching Miley Cyrus parodies on You Tube.

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My Grandma and I!

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I don’t know if I mentioned the AMAZING bridal suite my venue had (as you can see). It was huge with a bathroom, extra changing room, leather couch and large mirror with chairs for the hair and make up. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This part of the day definitely went by in a blur but it was so nice to relax in that suite with my bridesmaids!

Where did you get ready for your wedding?

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