Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking with Boys...Chocolate Peanut Squares

I am so glad I committed to cooking with my boys more. They are becoming ever present fixtures in the kitchen. I've been teaching them different cooking techniques, we've been learning about fractions, but most of all, we've been enjoying each others company.

This week we made Chocolate Peanut Squares. I found the recipe here but you can click here to get an easy-to-read printable version. Of course, I'll be providing it for you too. There is no baking required so it is the perfect treat to make when you don't want to heat up your kitchen during these hot summer months.

2 c confectioner's sugar
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
2/3 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c butter; melted

2/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 t creamy peanut butter
1/2 t butter


Begin by lining a 9 in, square pan with foil and butter the foil; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed under "foundation".

Magnus did a great job crushing the graham crackers.

Thane measured and dumped the graham crackers into the bowl.

Magnus measured the peanut butter and added it to the bowl.

Thane stirred all the "foundation" ingredients together.

Magnus had the messy job of packing the "foundation" into the prepared 9-in, square pan.

Next, we made the "topping".
Combine all of the ingredients under "topping" in a microwave safe bowl; heat until melted. Spread it over the peanut butter layer.

Thane measured the chocolate chips and ate the ones that somehow "fell" out.

After all of the "topping" ingredients were in the bowl, the boys were in charge of melting and mixing them all together. They took this job very seriously.

Thane spread the "topping" on top of the "foundation" and placed it in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.

Once it was cooled, we lifted the foil out of the pan, cut it into little squares, and filled our tummys!

The boys agree that when we make them again, we should double the "topping" part. We really like chocolate!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 2

After the incredibly awful first week of school we experienced last week, I wasn't sure if we were going to make it through the second. Monday of this week left me doubting our year entirely. How were we going to make it? Would our relationships survive? Had we lost our love of learning?

I did some soul searching, some praying, and some thinking.

We are coming off a very difficult summer. The boys experienced death for the first time in a very real way. It wasn't a dear pet. Not even an elderly grandparent. It was their 22 month old cousin. A child. A baby. So many emotions. So many questions. So tragic. Many of the emotions and questions are still being felt and answered today. It's still with us. We miss Ben and I am still concerned about my sweet cousin, Steph.

Our 2009-2010 never really came to and end due to said tragedy. No closure. We packed up and went to IA weeks before we had planned. It's alright. It is what needed to be done. Family first. We were there for 5 weeks.

We have spent most of the summer without Collin. He needed to stay behind and finish classes so was unable to come to IA with us until his scheduled time for my brother's wedding. Then we only had him for a week. He needed to get back to CA to start his summer job. We're very thankful for his job. Really. It's been hard, though, because he is gone from 7 am to 9pm M-F. The boys miss him. I miss him. He misses us.

So, those are some of the things I thought about. No wonder we're having a difficult time. Lots of change. Lots of unsettledness.

I decided to give us a break. Even though we weren't doing much yet, we're doing less now. And that is okay.

I got back to my morning routine as much as I could with Collin being gone. The boys responded positively to their breakfast being laid out beautifully like it used to be. We didn't start our morning with the dreaded subject of math. We cuddled on the couch, instead, and read books about volcanoes and the geography of the US. Math came later. We baked together and met friends at the park. Cooperation and patience were present. Learning happened.

I am happy to report that week 2 of the 2010-2011 school year was good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cooking with Boys...Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

This recipe came from allrecipes.com. I cut the recipe in half because I didn't *need* 96 bars. 96 bars would not look good on my hips. I don't think it made 48 bars either, unless you cut them really small.

Ingredients (Already halved for you! That's the kind of girl I am!)
1 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1t vanilla extract
1/2t water
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1t baking soda
3/4t salt
2c semisweet chocolate chips (we used 3)


In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla and water; beat until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a smaller bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and eat the ones that don't make it into the bowl for some reason. Press into a greased 15-in. x 10-in 1 1-in. baking pan. To tell you the truth, I don't have a clue as to the size of my pan, but I think it was close to that. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Thane is very precise about setting the temperature correctly.

We don't have a 3/4 c measuring cup so we had a quick lesson on fractions. The boys picked up on in quickly. Math...check!

Magnus is packing the brown sugar. Wanna know why you pack brown sugar and not white? Me too! So I googled it.

Here is what I found...

"Brown sugar is refined white sugar with molasses added to it. The same weight of brown sugar and white sugar has the same amount of sweetness. Because white sugar is denser than brown sugar, to get equal sweetness you have to pack the brown sugar."

Yeah. I still don't get it. Oh well, on with the show.

I just thought this was a cool shot. Still learning how to use my camera.

This, however, is not a cool shot. One thing to keep in mind when Cooking With Boys is, "Messes happen." What I am saying? Messes happen when I cook without the boys too!

In case you are wondering, I did not put the "oops" egg in the mixture. Tempted, but nah.

Chocolate chips are being folded! Er, mixed, actually.

Magnus is being very careful. Do you think he likes wearing the pink pot holders? Ask me if I care. In a house full of testosterone, I get to have pink pot holders.


Gooey goodness!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekly Report...Week 1

I'm hosting a pity party and you are all invited. This week was so far from the, "Yay, Mom! We are so excited about starting school!" "Great, boys! This is going to be an awesome year!" week I had envisioned.

It went more like this:

Me: "Boys. Time to get up. We're starting school today."

Boys: "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. We don't want to."

Nice. Real nice.

The week was FULL of whining (them), lost patience (me), and illness (all of us).

Maybe they can sense that I am just not "into it" this year. It's our 5th year homeschooling, and I am having a lot of difficulty getting motivated. I don't even want to browse through the crisp, oh-so-good smelling homeschool catalogs that arrive in the mail.

This summer has been difficult. Rough. I thought that by putting it to an end, we'd be able to put it behind us. I don't know. We'll see what next week brings.

Oh...and would you believe that I didn't even take a "First Day of School" picture? Maybe that was the problem.

If you feel like reading some previous Weekly Reports you can click on these links:
Weekly Report 07-08
Weekly Report 08-09
Weekly Report 09-10

ETA: Barb is a big source of inspiration and encouragement for me. Her blog post today could not have come at a better time. Had me in tears.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cooking With Boys...Muffins That Taste Like Donuts

Donuts. Mmmmmm. I love donuts!

I came across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's cooking blog, The Tasty Kitchen and thought it would be a great thing for Thane and I to cook this week.

We gathered all of our ingredients in one place. I have found it is a good idea to do this when cooking with the boys for 3 reasons:

1. You can make sure you have everything you need before you get started. No emergency trips to the store in the middle of preparation.

2. Everything is within arms reach and searching for ingredients in the cupboards is not done during preparation.

3. It makes for a nice picture to begin the blog post with.

Last week when we baked my Mother-In-Law's recipe for Kentucky Apple Cake, Thane learned about leveling off dry ingredients with a knife. This week, he was surprised to see the baking powder container had a "leveler" built in! No wasting of the powder because it drops right back into the container.

This is all of our dry ingredients. Thane figured out to measure all of the dry ingredients into a smaller bowl and the wet ingredients into a larger bowl because we were going to add the dry to the wet. Critical thinking skills at work!

During another time of baking, we learned the hard way about cracking eggs individually into a separate bowl and not directly into the bowl the rest of your ingredients are in. Rotten eggs are icky.

Thane is mixing the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter was pretty thick.

This was Thane's first time dividing up the batter into the muffin pan. He did a great job!

While the muffins were cooking, we prepared the mixture for the topping. Thane and I examined the butter stick for the correct amount. He thought it was cool that all we had to do was cut it and not place it in a measuring cup.

These were yummy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Little House

"So they jacked up the Little House
and put her on wheels. Traffic was held up
for hours as they slowly moved her out of the city."

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

This is something you dont' see everyday. We were fortunate to be able to witness them navigate through the streets of our downtown. Tree branches needed to be cut, wires taken down, and signs removed. Of course it was a learning experience! We discussed the physics of it and the planning involved. It was pretty cool.