My Favorite Childhood Holiday Cookie: Pecan Balls

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Growing up my mom wasn’t around a lot, so my memories of traditions are very few. But one thing I do remember is these amazing little bite size cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Well one year my mom decided that I was too old and stopped making all the cookies and holiday feast. It all fell on me. I searched every cookbook looking for a pecan ball recipe. What I didn’t know until I got this beautiful thing called internet is that they are actually called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Then it took quite a few years to perfect the recipe to how I remember them tasting. Now it has become a tradition with my kids and they know it is not Christmas without this cookie! I even got my picky lil man to try them this year and it was instant love.

I really hope you enjoy this cookie as much as my family does.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 tbs confectioner sugar, plus more for rolling in
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer until well blended. Add pecans and mix.

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I used my smaller cookie scooper on these because I like them to be 1-2 bite size. Scoop and roll dough into round small balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Pecan Balls

As you can see I put a lot on one sheet because these cookies don’t spread, they hold their form. I managed to get on batch on one sheet. They do puff up a little so you may have a few that are touching but nothing you can easily pull apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

Pecan Balls

As you can see they look almost the same after baked. So you have to do a touch test. You want them a little firm and a very light coloring.

Cool completely then roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Now if you are like me who absolutely does not wait until they are cool completely; then you will have to roll them again in a day or so. If they last that long!

Pecan Balls

Enjoy!

 

December Preschool

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The holidays are here along with the hustle and bustle. This time of year always throws off our homeschooling schedule. I just have way too much cooking and shopping to do. Along with all the fun holiday activities! There is visiting Santa, Christmas crafts and baking, visiting fun holiday places and watching all those movies. So why not make that a part of homeschooling. I know I learn something new every year, so I am sure your kids will too. Plus your kids are only young once and you want to enjoy these little memories before their too big and too cool to hang with you. Believe me! I know!

Activities planned for the month:

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Putting up our tree
  • Visiting Santa
  • Mailing a letter to Santa
  • Baking Cookies
  • Pinecone Painting
  • G is for Gingerbread~ Gingerbread paint, making gingerbread men or house
  • Learn about reindeers
  • Poinsettias
  • National Cocoa Day~ measuring and mixing (that’s math people!)
  • Grinch day~ Learn about kindness. Pin the heart on the Grinch and grinch juice as a snack. Plus watching old and new version of the movie.
  • Candy Canes~ Cane Hunt, Playdough, Paint and erupting Candy canes
  • Polar Express PJ Party
  • 1st day of Winter
  • Snowball Fight and Homemade Snow Fun
  • Advent Calendar
  • Walt Disney’s B-day December 5
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Field Trips planned:

  • Disney World~ At Hollywood Studios, they have an amazing light display called the Osbourne Family Lights. It is the best display I have ever seen. And, of course, the lighting of the castle at Magic Kingdom. This year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf are lighting the tree. Very exciting!
  • Park
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • Lowes for the monthly building activity
  • Looking at Christmas lights

Because it’s a busy month, I haven’t planned out everyday. I just made a list and when I need an idea I search through and grab the ones that appeal to me that day.

For more ideas visit my pinterest boards. Christmas Activities for school and December preschool lessons

I also have a Christmas board that has a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas and Advent Calendar activities.

 

 

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Casserole

So the holiday is over and your all turkey sandwiched out. But you still have turkey leftover. Well this recipe is the perfect use for it. It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving in one dish. (Well maybe not the pumpkin pie, because that’s taking it too far! Just put that one on the side.) And it is so adaptable to what you have in the house so don’t worry about running out and buying ingredients.

I found this recipe many years ago on Food.com, but you know how I like to change things up. So here is our version of it.

Turkey Casserole

2 tsp Grapeseed oil or coconut oil

1/3 cup minced onions

2 Tbs white wine

1/4 cup flour

1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp thyme dried or fresh (chopped)

1/2 tsp sage dried or fresh (chopped)

1/4 cup cream cheese

10 oz bag of egg noodles

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

3 cups chopped turkey or chicken

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or use leftover stuffing or a mix of both)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1) Start cooking your noodles as package says. Keep an eye on them and drain when their done.

2) In a sauce pan, cook saute onions in oil over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add wine and let it cook out for 1 minute.

3) Add flour (use a little at a time; if you don’t need the full 1/4 cup don’t worry about it.) and stir for 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add milk, broth, thyme, sage, a sprinkling salt and pepper and cream cheese; stir and cook until creamy and combined.

5) In a large bowl, combine turkey, noodles, mozzarella and sauce.

6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7) Spoon into greased casserole dish.

8) Time for the topping. This is totally up to you. Do you have a lot of left over stuffing? Then use that. Do you have a little bit but not enough? Combine with seasoned breadcrumbs. No stuffing at all? Use the seasoned breadcrumbs only, but I like to add a little dried marjoram, sage and thyme to add more of the stuffing taste to it.

9) Add topping, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

10) Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Now this is exactly how I serve it because sometimes I think I am living with a house full of toddlers. No one wants their veggies. Including my hubby! (SSHHH but he is the worse.)

So if it was just me and my girls. I would at the beginning saute some chopped mushrooms with the onions and switch my oil to butter. Also cut my turkey back to maybe 2-2 1/2 cups, since we added mushrooms.

And I would also add peas in before you mix everything up. Or you could even use green beans. Maybe leftovers depending on how they were made. We had green bean casserole so that won’t work this year. But if you got regular cooked green beans; drain and add them in.

Honestly, the plain ol’ version my family likes is okay by me too. It has a home cooked feel. Something about the flavors just scream warm and fuzzy. Try it! You will understand what I am talking about.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

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This is one of my son’s favorite breakfast. They are light and flaky; perfect for summer. But also warm and gooey and cinnamony (yup just made that word up); perfect for winter. Pair these with cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and you have a yummy breakfast.

I found this recipe in 2008 Taste of Homes Quick Cooking cookbook.  I actually didn’t have to “fix” this recipe. The only thing I did was cut down the amount of cinnamon chips, but that was a personal preference. Something about me won’t let me use a whole bag of chips; so I used 3/4 of the bag.

 

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbs sugar; divided

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 pkg or 1 pkg (depending on taste) cinnamon flavored baking chips

2 tbs butter; melted

 

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In large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

DSC_0059 Like this. If you leave large chunks of butter that is going to make it flaky. Which is what you want from a scone.

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Stir in the buttermilk just until moistened. Then fold in chips.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface. When you dump your bowl out, don’t panic because it’s not mixed or it looks dry. The warmth from your hands will bind it together as you knead it. Knead gently 10-12 times or until dough is not sticky.

DSC_0063 Divide in half.

DSC_0064 And pat or roll out into a circle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle remaining sugar on top.

DSC_0066 Then take a pizza cutter and cut like a pizza. You should be able to get 8 wedges from each circle. Repeat the last 2 steps with the other ball of dough.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes. I find 11 minutes is good. But remember all ovens are different. They are done when they are lightly brown and firm.

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Cooking with kids~ Chicken Cordon Bleu

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A long time ago, as in a few months ago, I would just buy those frozen Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu. Times has changed, money is tight and since I would have to buy 4 packs for one meal, it had to go. So I was at the store with my kids, wondering what to fix for dinner. I wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu and knew I had already thawed out chicken at home, decided to fight the urge to buy it premade and made my own with the help of Brianna.

My lovely assistant

My lovely assistant

 

This recipe is very easy for kids to make because it’s pretty hard to screw up and really doesn’t involve any measuring. So I knew it would be perfect for my special child to make. Plus there was no recipe to read just listening to Mom.

Ingredients:

chicken breast~ I use thin sliced, but if you prefer the thicker ones just adjust your cooking time.

Dijon mustard or honey mustard

seasoned bread crumbs

oil or cooking spray

deli sliced ham and swiss cheese

This is what I used, but honestly the ingredients can be switched out to fit your families taste. I would have prefered honey mustard, but didn’t have any.

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Coat both sides of the chicken with a thin layer of Dijon Mustard.

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Then coat with breadcrumbs.

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Saute in a pan until lightly brown on both sides. You can use butter, coconut oil or grape seed oil. This will take about 5-7 minutes depending on the temp of your pan.

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Remove from pan and stick on a cookie sheet. Add ham; as much or as little as you like.

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Another thin layer of mustard.

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Then top with the cheese. Then I pop these in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. I want to make sure the chicken is done and the cheese is melted. Now if you are worried about the cheese getting burned, you could always put the chicken in the oven before you add the mustard and cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes and then add continue with recipe, baking another 5-10 minutes.

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And then VOILA! The finish project! It was delicious! I usually add a cheesy rice as a side (almost like a risotto) and some corn or broccoli.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

November Preschool Curriculum

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November is filled with so much learning opportunities that it really doesn’t need much added to it. For my 5 yr old, holidays are a huge event right now. He loves counting down from one holiday to the next. We have several calendars set up and special markers added for Thanksgiving. We also made a paper chain that he can rip off and count everyday.

 

I am choosing to focus mostly on the meaning of Thanksgiving. These are some points I plan on covering this month:

  • Who are Pilgrims and Native Americans
  • Where the Pilgrims came from, where they ended up and how they got there
  • Meaning of Thanksgiving (being thankful)
  • What the first Thanksgiving was like
  • Foods then and now
  • Showing Kindness
  • Basic Thanksgiving words and crafts

As extra bonus, there were a few special days from the calendar this month that I will throw in there.

  • X-ray day (Saturday 11/8)
  • Recycling Day (Saturday 11/15)
  • Button Day (Sunday 11/16)
  • Homemade Bread Day (Monday 11/17)
  • Mickey Mouse Birthday (Tuesday 11/18)
  • Traffic Light Day (Thursday 11/20)

The days that fall on weekends, I usually fit in where ever I need an activity.

There were also 2 days from last month that I either didn’t get to or I couldn’t find my materials that I will definitely work in this month.

  • National Nut day
  • Reptile Awareness Day

Every lesson I talk about letters and their sounds. We will be counting daily. I have a little bit of science, history, geography, art, cooking, and color recognition.  My son and I read books daily. Utilize your library!

I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. Follow my board November Preschool Ideas I pin all ideas specific to the month in one separate board to keep me from having to search forever.

I also print out a monthly calendar and use a notebook to keep things easy and convenient.  On the calendar, I mark the days of special events. This gives me a quick cheat sheet.

In my notebook is where I detail everything. I will write the date, the theme and different activities that go with it. Everything from the letters we learn, the book will read and the crafts or activities that I have saved on Pinterest. This keeps me from suffering from Mommy Brain and able to stay on track.

Another thing I do (most of the time)  is print out different activities ahead of time, and keep it in a monthly folder.

I am not a very organize person, but these 3 things keep me on track and are worth my time.

Let me know what works for you!

Photo Round Up October 2014

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This month has been extremely busy. I never realized how busy it was until this year. I felt like I never got a break. Every weekend was booked with something going on or errands needing to be ran. I told Hubby that next year I am sleeping through October. Just wake me up for Halloween! Since I didn’t post much I am giving you a round up of photos.

 

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1st apple pie of the season

 

 

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My oldest 2 have been taking cake decorating classes. So now they decorate their own cakes. This was a quick version for my oldest child’s birthday. She turned 17!

 

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Took a quick trip to Epcot for the food and wine festival. We had so much fun trying new food and found quite a lot of new meal ideas.

 

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Homecoming~ Her first year going and she looked amazing!

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Pumpkin Carving

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My little Olaf!

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Dakota and I dressed as Anna and Olaf from Frozen

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2 out of 3 of my sugar skulls with Olaf.