Friday, August 26, 2016

Kitten Lesson Plans

Every week during the school year, I spend about 2 hours with the sweetest group of children. We read books, do crafts, sing songs and do science experiments. We're about to get together for the first time in a few days and since I happen to have a house full of kittens right now,  I thought it would be fun to plan a kitten theme for my first lesson with the little ones. 


Usually, we start off with a book, so naturally the book this week will be Cats, one of the books in Usborne's Beginner Nonfiction series. 

After we read the book, I'll get one of the kittens to come visit the children for a few minutes. This is Mittens, the only boy in the litter. Isn't he adorable?





After they've had a chance to very gently pet the kitten, we'll need a song to transition into craft time. Usually by now, things are starting to get rowdy, but a quick song usually does the trick to calm everyone down.  


And then after our song, we'll read another quick story- Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes


And after our story, we'll do the kitten mask activity on this blog:


I had some trouble coming up with a science project that is kitten related, but the kitten in the story is chasing a bowl of milk, so we'll go with milk science for this week. 








Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My favorite Instant Pot Recipes

I got an Instant Pot a few months ago, and I love it so much that I regularly share about it on Facebook. Several friends have asked for a list of my favorite recipes, so here are a few.  I'll probably organize this a little better and will definitely add more as I have time, but this is a good start.

Hard boiled eggs: 
This is so easy. Just put the trivet into your pot, pour in a cup of water and add your eggs. Some recipes say 6 eggs. I add more and it's always fine. Pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Meanwhile prepare a bowl or a pot of ice water. When the pressure cooking time is up, do a quick pressure release. Remove the eggs from the pot and dunk in ice water. You'll be amazed at how easy they peel. 


Potato Salad:
Speaking of eggs, you'll love that you can cook your eggs and potatoes in the same pot together for this Quick Pressure Cooker Potato Salad, while you enjoy a nice cool kitchen! I love potato salad in the summer, but who wants to boil water in the summer? Not me. I'll be using this recipe from now on.

"Baked" Potatoes:
While we're on the subject of potatoes, making potatoes is so quick and easy. Use 1 cup of water in the pot, then stack your potatoes on the trivet. Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes, then quick release. Larger potatoes might take a little longer, but our medium sized potatoes have turned out perfect using this method.

Macaroni and Cheese:
I basically follow the method shown in this YouTube video but I don't really measure. I place 1 box of macaroni or penne in my pot with 4 cups of water and a little tabasco and dry mustard. (I eyeball it, maybe a tsp of each), cook on high for 4 minutes. Release the pressure and then add milk or cream plus shredded cheese. Again, I eyeball the amounts, but I believe the video has exact measurements.

Pasta:
This is a great, cheap meal in a hurry. Place 1 box pasta (I use penne) in the pot, plus 1 or 2 jars of sauce, depending on how "saucy" you like your pasta,  and 1 jar of water. Side note- I really questioned the addition of water, but it worked out fine.  Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes. Release pressure. This is so quick and not healthy, but as a last resort between my daughter's cross-country practice and meeting a friend to work out, it got everyone fed and we were back out the door to the Y on time.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Let me just say that not all Chicken Tikka recipes are created equal. This is the one that turns out very well for me every time. Others I've tried were barely palatable. So if you've made chicken tikka on my recommendation but didn't use this particular recipe and didn't like it, give it another try with this recipe. You'll love it. Also, this is why I want two more instant pots- one for the chicken, another for veggies and a third for the rice.

Honey Bourbon Chicken
My children love this  Honey Bourbon Chicken recipe. I've made it 3 times now. Again, this makes me wish I wish I had three pots- one for veggies and another for rice.

Instant Pot Potato Soup
I've made this potato soup once so far and plan to make it again! So yummy! Add a salad and you have a meal!

Lemon-Dijon Chicken Thighs
This is my own made up recipe and it turned out surprisingly good! I kind of made this out of laziness because I didn't feel like assembling anything more complicated but I had to use up a package of thighs I'd thawed earlier today. Anyway, use 1-2 cups chicken broth, juice from one lemon, a few squirts of dijon mustard and 2.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts that have been seasoned with dried rosemary and salt. Cook on high for 18 minutes, quick pressure release. This was great with steamed broccoli and quinoa on the side.

Black Bean and Veggie Soup
I use 4 cups veggie broth, 4 cans of black beans, 2 carrots, sliced, a stalk of celery, about a cup of salsa, a can of diced tomatoes and taco seasoning to taste. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.


This is just a short list, but I'll add more when I have more time.