Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beef and Broccoli and Car Shopping

Today I made beef and broccoli that was almost as good as restaurant beef and broccoli. I think it was healthier though, so I'll take that. It was lighter and had a lot less sodium. This recipe uses round steak, which is an inexpensive way to eat red meat instead of hamburger. It's a little tough, but marinating helps. I found this recipe here at I love that the website has comments and pictures, especially when 500 people have given a recipe a 4 star review. It is so helpful! Here are just a few suggestions from the comments that I followed when making mine:
  • Marinate the beef overnight in 2 tbs soy sauce, a little ginger (I used the paste found in the produce aisle by the herbs and fresh ginger. This is just much easier I think.), a little garlic, and a little oil. I'm really not into measuring apparently. Slicing meat the night before also really saves on prep time when you're hungry.
  • I made extra sauce because I had extra beef broth and I was glad I did. I probably made 1/4 more. 
  • I added carrots and water chestnuts because I had them on hand. 
In other news...we are car shopping right now. It's expensive, but exciting! I think we're getting a small SUV, like a Toyota Rav 4 or a Ford Escape. I'm so happy about that! I'm done with regular ol cars. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Student quote

One of my favorite things is overhearing my students talking about me. It's so funny...they act like I'm not in the room or I can't hear. Today I was untangling a mass of headphone wires from the listening center so I had a bunch of cords in my hands and around me. I heard a student say, "is she sewing?" Then another replied seriously, "yes, Mrs. Johnston has to do her sewing." Sewing?! ok...

I love taking care of those kids.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Marinated Salmon with Mango Kiwi Salsa

Yumm...Tonight I tried this recipe from Cooking Light, found here and we had mixed reviews. We loved the way the salmon was cooked. It was perfect! But, the salsa wasn't our favorite. I don't get mango. I've never liked it. Even when I've had my class try it during our Social Studies World Trip, and I try to make them try it. It's messy, too. How do you cut a mango? I had mango slipping and sliding all over the place. It seems to have a pine-y taste to it that's not my favorite. If you make the salsa, I didn't completely measure the ingredients. I used 2 kiwis, 1 mango, a few sprigs of cilantro (1/4 cup seemed like a lot!), and enough orange juice to cover it. On the side, I served cinnamon and sugar pita chips! They were delicious. Just use anything like pita bread, tortilla, or flat bread (which is what I had) and butter them and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and then broil them until they are warm and golden. They went really well with the fruit.

To conclude: Great salmon, few ingredients, 20 minutes from start to finish, someone else would probably like the salsa.

Also on the menu this week: BBQ Chicken Pizza, Broccoli Beef Stir Fry

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Student quote and a Penny update

First off, I'm typing this on my iPad...woah!!

Student A was going to be spending the night at student B's house. Both are boys.
Student A: I don't even know what your dad looks like! Is he bald?
Stuent B: no he has hair! It smells so good! It smells like chocolate milk! Let's have chocolate milk at 11:00!!

And last week, Penny's family sent me a picture of her currently. Here's Penny now:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

She's Ours!

Here is our sweet puppy (maybe named Penny) at one month old. She doesn't have teeth and she just mostly sits and sometimes makes a little noise or licks your hand. We'll be able to take her home around May 29th. We are so excited to announce her arrival to our family!


This is her now!
Today I will be going to a really small town in Illinois to meet my baby puppy! I don't want to post a picture until it's for sure...but she's so tiny and light brown with little white paws and some black on her face. We're tentatively calling her Penny, but we'll decide when we get her if that name will stick. Naming a dog is a big deal! I can't imagine what it's like to name a person! Anyway, right now she is only 1 month old and we can bring her home when she's a little over 2 months old. She will probably weigh 6 or 7 pounds full grown, so when we bring her home she will be 3 pounds or less. We'll get a little bell for her. I'm so excited to take care of her!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

T.J. and Jamie!

I've been keeping a big secret for over a month! On Monday, TJ and Jamie became engaged! I could not be more excited and happy for them. They are a perfect couple. Taylor and I introduced them to each other after Jamie caught T.J.'s eye in Barnes and Noble one winter evening. The next summer, Taylor and I were married and they began to date. T.J.'s proposal was so sweet and thoughtful. It involved rose petals, Christmas lights, 600+ cards telling their story, and a complete surprise that T.J. was in Peoria instead of Phoenix! Do you know how hard it is to talk to your best friend, knowing that their boyfriend is planning this monumental event? Very hard! I'm glad that stage of this is done. I'm so looking forward to seeing what they plan to do with their lives over the next few years. I love you guys!!

And here is one of the beautiful bride to be, reading to my class on Monday, just a few hours before the engagement. She's so cute!

I'll have a hug instead

Just when my class couldn't get any more wild and loud and in that state where I hope the principal doesn't walk in...they really surprised me. Today I said if we can take out our math workbooks and tear out the page with world record quietness and quickness, I would pass around the candy and sticker bag. Then this boy who generally wants to make me pull my hair out says, "How about hugs!? I want a hug instead!" So I laughed and said okay, we'll do both! So I gave everyone a hug and a candy. Oh goodness, it was a day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Dinners

I didn't take a picture of last night's dinner, but here's what I made: I marinated chicken breasts in teriyaki sauce, sprinkled red pepper flakes on them, and then broiled them in a pyrex 9x13 pan for 5 minutes. Flipped them and broiled again for another 5 minutes. Then I took them out and drizzled them with honey because honey is so good and broiled them for another minute and repeated that last step for the other side. I served this with a side of low mein noodles from a packet. This was very tasty--a little sweet and spicy and very tender. I've been buying chicken from Schnuck's and have been getting their brand of chicken breasts. They are so so much better than any other chicken breasts that I've tried. But this recipe got even better the next night....

For this salad, you'll need the above chicken, strawberries, grapes, lettuce, and some kind of fruity vinaigrette. I tried T. Martzetti's Strawberry Chardonney vinaigrette.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Three things I don't want to forget

-The line leader constantly stepping on the foot bed of my flip flop and saying sorry while we were both giggling.
-Painting ocean scenes like Eric Carle. A student said, "Mrs. Johnston, you have paint all over your hands!!!" Me replying excitedly, "I don't care! I love paint!" Smiles all around.
-We were told to pick the dandelions in the field to help the maintenance staff. This is obviously a hobby of the students, so it was very much fun for them. I hope I never forget this mental image of this sweet blonde boy with big brown eyes and freckles running towards me with a closed fist, yelling my name, smiling huge. He opened his fist to hand me some scrunched up dandelions and I could see the yellow staining his hands, dirt, and blue paint on his sweaty palm. Oh this got me!

Today was joyful. Life is beautiful. I love love love my job. There could be nothing better than to work with children.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Student Quote :)

"My dad used to be really lazy and only sit around, but now he's creativeful and does things."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spicy Honey Chicken

Tonight I tried a recipe from and we loved it! Here's the recipe. This is one I definitely recommend. It was easy, fast, low in fat and calories, and really good. I think start to finish took only 15 minutes. I love anything that has a lot of spices in it because I love measuring and pouring spices! Nerd alert! I made 2 changes: I substituted red wine vinegar for the apple cider vinegar and I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. I served it with a garden salad that was a perfect balance to the spicy chicken!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Rib-Eye Steaks in Red Wine Sauce

This weekend I attempted and succeeded in making steak without a grill! It was "better than restaurant steak," according to Taylor. This recipe is very, very easy and very, very quick. You can find it here. I served it with rosemary potato bread from Kroger's bakery and steamed broccoli. We loved it!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Layla, the softest dog around

Layla is my brother Zach's one year old Australian Shepherd. She is such a well-behaved and smart dog. She loves to go to her kennel and can catch a tennis ball. She also can jump through a hula hoop! She's so soft and fluffy, too. Here a few pictures of her. Enjoy!

Zach and Layla when she was only about 6 months. Look how she sits!
Layla now, just a few days over one year:

I attempted a Photobooth photo shoot with her, but it proved pretty difficult :)

Four Layer Lemon Truffle Cake

This was a huge undertaking for me. I've never baked a cake that didn't come from a box. Everything in this recipe was homemade...the cakes, the lemon curd, the truffle filling, but I substituted store bought frosting for whipped cream because of logistical concerns. The recipe, found here, was from If you try this, be prepared for intense whisking and multitasking and hard work. It was such a reward to see it coming out looking right though! You'll never grow as a baker or a cook if you don't try new and difficult things. What should I try next? A pie? Taylor's favorite is key lime pie. Yes! I should try that next month. Here are just a few pictures. If you end up making it, let me know so I can give you a few tips.
This last picture shows how much is left over after EIGHT people have eaten a piece! Plenty for LOST night!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Happy Spring Shoes!

I couldn't get a picture that didn't make my feet look like little stumps. My feet are actually quite normal sized. I loved these shoes and they were so comfortable and cheap from TJ Maxx. They have a little strap that goes across the top of your foot and I might just cut that off. I don't enjoy buckling little tiny straps. Taylor is not sure if he likes them...he says there is too much purple. What do you think? I think I love purple!

Creamy Mints for Easter

I'm not actually going to post this recipe because it was so strange. I had to add so much more in the end than what was called for. I don't think I'll make these guys again. These are what I used my mixer for in the previous post about the mixer.


We're raising tadpoles in my classroom and they are so fun to see grow every day. The kids love them and write notes about them, name them, talk to them, pretend they are taking spelling tests and saying our phonics special sounds with us. They are so simple but so entertaining. (Ok maybe I'm just a dork.)

Here they are at 1 week old:
And here they are today at 6 weeks old:

Friday, April 02, 2010

I bet I'd be a better baker...

if my manicure matched my mixer. ;)
perhaps I'll post later about what I made!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A question about dress code

Girl student: Are we allowed to wear those tank tops that tie around your neck and have no straps?
Boy student: NO! That would choke you.