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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Absenteeism!

I've been absent. For THREE days! Absenteeism is a very big deal in the work world, and I consider it an even bigger deal in school. How are kids going to learn if they're gone all day, and often more than one day at a time??? Do people realize how many little, tiny skills kids learn in a day? Then when a student has been gone, the teacher has to reteach everything they've already taught, so that the child can catch up with the others. Now, I understand sick. I don't want them in my classroom when they're sick. As a teacher, I had my own little microcosm. When one came in sick, I got to have my own Contagion movie right in front of my very own eyes, except without Matt Damon. One child would come in sick, and I'd watch 2-3 fall out that day. The next day even more would be out. The next day, more! That's a nightmare, I'm tellin' ya!

Nope, I'm not talking about a sick absentee. I have a problem with students who are taken out of school to go on vacations with their families, or to go have their hair cut or nails done. To some of you, this may seem like I've taken leave of my senses; you would never, EVER consider taking your child out of school for such a frivolous reason! Thanks for that thought! Others are probably offended that I would even mention there was something wrong with removing your very own child for your very own reasons. I agree: you DO have the right to take your child wherever you want whenever you want! However, I don't think it's the best thing for most children. (Notice I said MOST.)

You won't believe this, but this post is actually about my absenteeism from this blog, not school or work. I have been out three days--not at DisneyWorld or on a cruise, or even getting my nails and hair done, sadly. I just haven't gotten on this computer much. I've definitely been cooking, though, so I owe THREE recipes for the three days I've been absent.

The first comes about because my mom has been sick with a cold. I made her an old stand-by:
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
(A serving of about 1 and 1/2 cups = 7 Weight Watchers Points.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb chicken breast tenders, diced (that's about 2 cups' worth)
1/2 lb wide egg noodles

Place extra-virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onions.
Add bay leaves and the salt and pepper, to taste.
Add stock to the pot and raise flame to bring liquid to a boil.
Add diced chicken tenderloins, return soup to a boil, and reduce heat back to medium.
Cook chicken 2 minutes and add noodles.
Cook soup an additional 6 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Remove the bay leaves and serve.
This is a thick soup. I usually end up adding 1 cup of chicken broth to make it have a little more liquid.




On the same day Mom needed soup, I had already planned to make a chicken and broccoli stir fry that I had seen on allrecipes.com. It had to wait a day, and when I made it I ended up not doing so well. It was super tasty, though!

SWEET AND SPICY STIR FRY WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI
(A 1/4 serving of this recipe with 1/2 cup of rice is 5.5 Weight Watchers Points.)

3 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 cup chicken stock

Place broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the chicken, green onions, and garlic until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Stir the hoisin sauce, chile paste, and soy sauce into the skillet. Season with ginger, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the chicken stock and simmer about 2 minutes. Mix in the steamed broccoli until coated with the sauce mixture.

***Here's what I did wrong....I had some chicken I'd cooked the day before, so I just used cooked chicken and waaaay too much! I ended up not having enough sauce to coat the broccoli, tried to add a little more liquid (I added soy sauce, because I love it!), and that made it too salty. I wouldn't serve what I made to other people, but I sure liked it since it was only for me!

**Also, do you know an easy way to get the garlic cloves cleaned quickly? Put the whole garlic cube? plant? rock? into a metal bowl and put another metal bowl on top of it so that you've created a hollow inside the two bowls. Then you shake, shake, shake it, which is good exercise, but I didn't count it as Activity Points on Weight Watchers (and I could have!)! The garlic rolls around in there, and when you peek inside, you'll find some cloves without any husk? skin? papery junk? anywhere! They were completely naked! I took out the naked cloves and shook some more until I had 4. Cool!





Today's recipe is NOT a Weight Watchers recipe. In fact, I am even afraid to figure the points per serving! I hope I don't eat any...I think I won't eat any....maybe just a smidge....OMG! I've used all my weekly points! Just kidding. We'll have to wait and see how I do after lunch with....

BANANA CREAM PIE WITH COCONUT-OATMEAL CRUST!!! Just typing it makes my mouth water. Yum! OK, see, the story is this: Mom and Dad invited me over for lunch. Dad is cooking steaks and I asked what I could bring. Mom said, "Well, we're having steak, baked potatoes, and salad." Being the good-girl-on-a-diet that I am, I said, "I will bring some steamed asparagus!" As the morning continued, I was concerned that I have lots of ingredients, sinful ingredients, living in my fridge (sinful for a diet girl): sour cream, whipping cream, half & half, buttermilk, and on and on. There's a neat Google tool, Google Recipes, that allows you to put in the ingredients you want to use and it will search out a recipe you can make. After much searching (OK, playing around!), as search terms, I put in bananas (they're about to be old), oatmeal, cream, and pie and this wonderfully yummy recipe arrived.

BANANA CREAM PIE WITH COCONUT-OATMEAL CRUST
(from Tastebook.com)
This recipe can be made into a Banana Cream pie, a Coconut Cream, or a Chocolate Cream. I want Coconut next!

Crust


1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup (2 oz) sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (1 7/8 oz) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
2 pinches of salt
5 Tbs (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

5 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups half & half
3 eggs
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream


1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla


Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grind the oats and coconut in a food processor for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, salt and butter, pulsing to combine. Pat the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch regular (not deep-dish) pie pan that’s at least 1 1/4 inches deep.
Bake the crust until firm, 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool while you make the filling.

Filling
Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in a 3-quart saucepan.
Add half & half and cook over medium heat until smooth and thick, stirring constantly.
Pour small amount of hot mixture into eggs; blend thoroughly, then pour back into saucepan.
Cook another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Whipped Cream
Combine ingredients. Whip until as stiff as desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Variations

Banana Cream: Slice 2 bananas into pie shell. Pour filling over bananas. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip cream and spread over pie.

Chocolate Cream: Decrease sugar in pie to 3/4 cup. Add 1/2 cup chocolate syrup to cooked mixture. (Or use the full cup of sugar and 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips.) Pour into pie shell. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip cream and spread over pie.

Coconut Cream: Add 1/2 cup coconut (toasted if desired) to pie filling. Pour into baked shell. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip the cream and spread over pie. Top with another 1/2 cup coconut.



Lunch was great, and the pie was a hit! And, YES, I ate a piece--eek! Enjoy your day! Don't be absent!



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