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PostHeaderIcon Spicy Grilled Chicken Strips

As promised, bringing some recipes to you just for those who own a George Foreman grill to the blog. This one was invented by my daughter and I on an experiment night when we made up 3 different types of marinades for chicken strips. The slightly spicy marinade won hands down, and is by far the best grilled chicken I’ve ever tasted.

What you’ll need for the marinade:

Chili infused olive oil (or olive oil with chili powder, but we used the “fancy” olive oil)
Chipotle seasoning
Sun-dried tomatoes
Fresh pepper (we used those spiffy grinders)

Depending on how much chicken you have will depend on the amount of ingredients you use. Obviously you want to make sure you use enough olive oil to coat everything, and then add the rest to your liking. Any other spicy seasoning can be used too, or even hot sauce.

We let the chicken sit in the fridge (in strips) in the marinade overnight, then threw it on the George Foreman grill the next night with the sun-dried tomatoes on the side. Ohhhhh these were SO yummy, and we’ve vowed to make them again. Chicken was super tender and it had just enough of a kick. Not too spicy for the kids at all.

Yum!

PostHeaderIcon Indoor Physical Activities with the Kids

I was wandering around some blogs and forums a little lost today, and stumbled on a blog post on Eccentric WAHM Bloggers all about Fitness in Your Day to Day. There’s three really awesome ideas here, and it got me thinking. With it being winter and reaaaaaally cold outside, going for a bike ride or a quick trip to the park is just out of the question. And now that I have one kid at home, finding some indoor activities is going to be pretty important. So let me add some fun (and productive) activities to do:

1. Wii!

Eh, I know we don’t all have a Wii. But I really, really do think this is an important addition to any household. It’s not “just another game system”, but is just AWESOME for physical fitness. I think this is an absolute must for homeschoolers. (On a side note – we went to the “real bowling alley” last weekend and ONE GAME for 1 adult and 2 kids with a small “snack” cost us over $30! GAH!)

2. Cleaning Challenges

Who’s the fastest picker-upper? How many windows can you clean in 5 minutes? What’s the record time in the house for taking out the garbage? Have some fun, get the house cleaned, and burn some calories! If you live in an area where they do pop can/bottle returns, you can throw some math into the mix as well counting nickels/dimes.

3. Take a Walk – Indoors

Take a trip to the local historical museums, learning centers, or other large indoor complexes. Not all of them cost money to visit either, so keep your eyes peeled for awesome places you can spend a few hours walking around in. For those of us that sit on our butts all day, this is excellent exercise. Plus if it’s cold, you can race to the car when your finished (I think we all do this anyway when the temp is below zero!)

What are some other activities you do in your house with your kids?

PostHeaderIcon Homeschooling Resources

Since things took a major turn for the worst at school and with the support of an independent councilor, we’re jumping into the unknown world of homeschooling. Like, immediately. I’ve had about a week to really get ready for this and the start date is coming up WAY fast. Honestly, I’m terrified.

As I’m filling out paper work, I get down to the “Course of Study” section where they want me to detail what exactly I’ll be teaching the kid, and from what sources. Oh. Crap. I’ve had some idea sketched down and in my head, plus I’ve done some digging before. But on paper, in their little form, it doesn’t look that great. At least not to me. We have no books, no supplies outside of computer. “Random resources online” isn’t good enough for me or my kid, so I had to come up with something pretty damn fast.

What I finally decided on, mostly for my own sanity and so I KNOW he’s getting proper education (I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed, especially when it comes to things like 3rd grade grammar!), was an all-in-one “self teaching” site. Specifically, Time4Learning.com.

Honestly we haven’t tried it, but we will. This is going to be the main source of his education, which does include math, language arts, science, and social studies. It won’t be the ONLY source, oh no. But the MAIN at least, giving me a little more piece of mind. It’s a little pricey at $20/mo, but since this is a temporary thing anyway, I’ll eat the cost for 3 or 4 months. Plus this is the point where I say something corny like “you can’t put a price on good education”. Meh.

So to please myself and the officials in charge, we’ll be MOSTLY going off Time4Learning. But also in his list of daily, weekly, and monthly education, we’ll be doing the following:

- Daily math drills, using this site.

- Science experiments from his “ Magical Science Experiments Book” book he got for Christmas (love this book, actually gives the reasons WHY these experiments work the way they do).

- “Journal writing”, which is actually BLOGGING. Yes, not only do I want my kid to practice writing but doing so online like normal people in this century. He’s got a blog at KidzWorld.

- Weekly spelling lists and daily practice (handwriting, really, and spelling repetition TO A POINT. This kid can spell, I’m not going to hound him with pointless practice like the school does. Can we way “waste of time”?) Getting those spelling words, at least to start, from this site.

- Daily work on his story. Now this is a bit more “specific” to him. This kid out of the blue decided to start writing on a story. Well I’m going to be treading on thin ice with this one because too much “pushing” and I know he’ll abandon it, but I’m going to move in slowly. I wont FORCE him to work on it, but rather suggest. Plus put some of his grammar skills to use and have him “self check”. I know there’s nothing more irritating to me when someone makes zero comments on the story and just points out all my errors. Grr. No. Not going to do that to him.

- Daily cursive writing practice. Yeah I really have no idea why, but they’re doing it at school. Probably a good idea I throw that in there.

- Trips! Oh, the trips we shall take. Especially when the weather gets nicer and we can plan outdoor “stuff” like parks and wild life places. Although the most special thing that came to my mind was being able to go visit my grandmother on her farm. Talk about packed with history. She was born a packrat, and has more historical items in her house than most small town historical buildings. When I was a child, saying “what’s that?” at her house turned into a fascinating story of turn-of-the-century farming and personal stories of “when I was a kid we had to….”. You CAN NOT read this stuff in books, that’s for damn sure. My only regret is losing my grandfather last summer, and all his war stories. Hopefully, though, my grandma and I can remember some.

Anyway, I’m still terrified, but a little less now that I have the main site to go off of and some fun ideas I know I can handle “supervising” at least. Lucky for me, my son is a very independent learner and has little problems staying on task if given a list. Might take a few weeks for us both to get use to this, but I don’t see any MAJOR problems right now.

If anyone has any other sites to go off of, (maybe something cheaper? :( ), please feel free to leave comments!

PostHeaderIcon Wontons with a Twist

Last week I had picked up some wonton wrappers from the store. My daughter got a cookbook for Christmas, and in it was a recipe for “Wonton chips”. They were alright, nothing real special though, but it got me wanting to play around with the remaining wonton wrappers.

I’m a huge lover of Chinese food, and have a serious obsession for Crab Rangoons. However, I absolutely suck at recreating favorite Chinese dishes (I’m still having nightmares about the sesame chicken that caught fire several years ago). So I decided to try something different.

First I fried up some bacon, because I had several packages in the freezer. Sounded like a good main dish for last night, too. I took a package of cream cheese and added 4-5 slices of bacon  crumbled up (they were kinda small slices, I would say 3 normal slices would do you). Added a bit of onion powder and dried minced garlic, and there I had a filling.

As mentioned before, I don’t usually do Chinese food and have NO idea how to fold a crab rangoon. I winged it. Much to my surprise it worked out alright. I just folded in the corners and then folded it up, and it stuck just fine  (think diagonal – corner to corner, then corner to corner).

I realize these are suppose to be deep fried, but I really didn’t feel like pulling out the fryer. Instead I pan fried them in canola oil, and that too worked out alright. They were a little on the greasy side, so next time I’ll probably do a bit more draining and use tongs instead of a spatula.

These were absolutely DELICIOUS, and has me wanting to make different kinds now. With wonton wrapers and cream cheese, the possibilities here seem endless!

PostHeaderIcon 3 Fun Places to Find Handmade Goodies

No matter if your a crafter or just like buying handmade goodies, here are a few sites to check out.

Etsy
Probably the largest site to find homemade products. Just about anything you could think of (and some you may NOT think of) is here. Not everything is “cute” either – I’ve stumbled on things such as bone necklaces and some pretty wild art. Makes the shopping options all the better, in my opinion.
(Be sure to see my daughter Etsy store while your there!)

Cafe Handmade
They have a fun “virtual craft show” theme going on here, where you “rent a booth” for a little bit of nothing. There’s more individual promotion going on here, with twitter posts directly to your store and encouragement each week to vote on your favorites. Prairie Soy Candles has just been listed here, and there’s some other nice looking stores. Smaller yes, but much more personal for shoppers and crafters both.
(See our listing here!)

Handmade Craft Show
Very similar to the previous site, but includes a “Gift Guide”. We haven’t purchased a booth on this site yet, but probably will in the near future. If your needing some gift ideas for whatever holiday is coming up, it’s worth checking out.

Feel free to comment on your favorites as well!

PostHeaderIcon Is a Wii Worth It?

While I really complained about the cost of a new Nintendo Wii since they first came out, I can’t say the $267.49 (tax included, purchased new at my local GameStop) I paid was really of that bad of a deal. Not only are they still selling for insane prices online, but when you figure in how much they are really WORTH, it makes all the difference.

Think of it this way….

- The price of home gym could be anywhere from $300 clear up into the thousands. Plus once you get the home gym, what is there to add to it, and how fun is it?

- A fitness club, at minimum, is going to cost you over $400 a year. Again the fun factor may be missing in some programs.

- YMCA membership in our area costs over $500 per year for a family. Our local Y is pretty sad looking, too, and no where near worth that cost. Plus most the ‘classes’ cost extra.

- Within three days of playing Wii Sports, we played about $200 worth of bowling games, which wouldn’t even include “extra” stuff at a bowling alley or the cost of gas to drive there.

So is the Wii worth the cost? Without a doubt! And with the price finally coming down at a lot of places, now would be a PERFECT time to latch on to one. Check locally or even at Wii on Amazon for some good prices and games to buy. Even after a year, we still play our Wii on a regular basis. ;)

PostHeaderIcon Why I'll Buy Less Processed Food

The other day I decided to make our “mountain pizza” for supper. I’ve gotten a tad lazy and been using premade pizza crusts quite often. It’s been forever since I’ve actually made pizza dough in the bread machine, but this little incident made me think twice about starting it up again.

I opened the package only to find the crust MOLDY. Yes little green fur growing all over this pizza crust that had just been opened. No there was no holes in the packaging, and I did check the expiration date. April 2010, and last I checked it was only January. So there was absolutely NO reason this crust should have been bad.

It got me thinking about all the recalls we’ve had lately,  and I cringed. This was an isolated incident I’m sure, so how many other times have we eaten foods that have been poorly packaged? How much illness can be pinned on bad foods even if we aren’t aware of it? What silent damage have we done to our bodies eatting them as well?

Luckily I had another pizza crust package (a different brand even, THANK GOD) since there was no time to make the dough myself, but it will be the last time I use one at all most likely. It will be back to the bread machine for us for probably everything bread related, since I just don’t trust what’s being put into packages anymore.

PostHeaderIcon Newest Kitchen Toys

For those of you sick to death of hearing about my bread machine, fear not! The end is in sight! I have new Kitchen toys thanks to Christmas presents from dad.

The first one is probably something half of you seasoned kitchen veterans (no pun intended) already have. A nifty little George Foreman Grill. Yup. Finally. Talk about being put to good use though – we’ve already used this thing at least a dozen times in the past few weeks. Grilled cheese, chicken, steak, hamburgers…basically anything we COULD put on there we have. And the budding chef of the house and me came up with an EXCELLENT chicken recipe (we’ll be posting some awesome recipes for this new toy later, I promise!).

The other new toy we got was also something I’ve wanted for a long time (actually since I saw it a friend’s house and stated “I’m jealous.”). It’s an electric griddle. So cute, so fun, so easy to make stuff without dragging out pans to wash. LOVE IT. It’s also been used several times since Christmas, for things like quesadillas, bacon, eggs, and pancakes. Now let me clue you, I did try to use the grill for bacon once and while it was probably the easiest bacon I’ve ever made, it wasn’t as good. On the griddle though, oh wow. Fantastic AND easy clean up. (Ours has a little tray where all the grease drips into, which made for a SUPER easy clean up).

Both these toys have put me in a cooking mood again, and my kids are loving it. We had way too many “fend for yourself” nights there for awhile. Both of these nifty things are highly recommended if you spend a lot of time cooking for your family. ;)

PostHeaderIcon Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Kids

And by “for kids”, we mean “to give to kids”. Sure you could get by with just a small box of chocolate (I do not foresee this being a problem with the boy), but where’s the fun in that? I know it’s more of a “couple’s holiday”, but for us single people we got to share the love somewhere.

Gifts for kids don’t have to be expensive. As mentioned you could go with a small box of candy or some other small item. My daughter’s handmade soap is an excellent option, especially since she’s been going nuts with her heart mold. (See her Etsy shop here for gift ideas)

What have you given your kids in the past? What do you have planned for this year? Let’s share some ideas!

PostHeaderIcon Wii Cheer 2 is out!

Alright so I’m a geek. What started as a game for the girl has become one of mom’s favorites. I was absolutely in love with the first We Cheer, and now I’m even more addicted to the second one.

Now granted the girl DID play the first one, but she’s not exactly the most coordinated kid out there. Some of those moves were just too difficult for her, so we ended up playing all the levels together so she could pass them. Maybe that was a bit of cheating, but she was trying her hardest and getting exercising done (the most important part right?).

The second one, however, is even better. There are now three levels for each song instead of two, and it’s really only the last level that’s extremely hard. Kids can now unlock things a bit faster, and enjoy more than just a handful of songs.

Now while admitting this might make me an even bigger geek, the biggest draw to me on the second one is how much I like some of the songs featured. Glamorous by Fergie, Girlfriend by Avril, and one of my favorite songs as of late, Just Dance featuring Lady GaGa. Yes, radio edit version on all of them, just barely. Since my kids are 7 and 9, I don’t mind them hearing these songs, but others might disagree (just a heads up there, really).

We’ll be sure to get the full review of this game up on our Family Games for Wii page soon, but until then, I highly suggest checking it out if you have the first one already mastered. ;)