Thursday, December 29, 2016

How We Are Managing Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy Through a Healthy Lifestyle


On May 20, 2012, my son had a series of seizures and shortly after, he was diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, or JME, a form of epilepsy that starts in childhood or adolescence. People with JME experience muscle twitching and jerking. They may also have other seizure types including full-blown convulsive seizures or absence seizures {staring spells}.

Epilepsy was no stranger to our family. My husband's grandpa and my uncle both had epilepsy. We knew enough about the disorder to know that certain factors could contribute to the precipitation of seizures. For example, sleep deprivation, fatigue, mental stress, and dehydration are all factors that can lead up to Andrew having a seizure. We also knew that there were terrible side-effects to the medications that are used to prevent and treat seizures. Sometimes the way that medications control the seizures can effect the way that the brain works in other ways and this scared us almost as much as the seizures did.

 We were lucky enough to have a neurologist and his physician's assistant, who listened to our concerns and worked with us to develop a plan for Andrew. We decided to try lifestyle changes{HUGE}along with a series of vitamins and supplements before putting him onto a daily  medication. We left that office armed with a list of changes that we could try that may or may not work and a prescription for him to take immediately, if and when he had another series of seizures. I'm not sure that the doctor was buying into the whole 'lifestyle change, natural healing' thing but we were committed and he supported our decision.

Here was our plan of attack:

  • Eliminate all artificial dyes from the diet & eat organic
  • Eliminate gluten and most grains {follow a very low-carb diet}
  • No less than 8 hours of sleep and plenty of naps
  • Always in bed by midnight- no sleepovers
  • Limited screen time/ video games
  • Journaling to manage stress
  • Drink half of his body weight in water everyday- more when he exercising
  • Supplements- prescription strength magnesium, riboflavin, B6 and Vitamin F {Omegas 3 & 6}
  • Eliminate as many chemicals from our home as possible

I went home and cleared out our pantry, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, soaps, candles, plug-ins, shampoos...you name it. Anything that had chemicals was donated or thrown away.

I scoured the internet for gluten-free recipes and all natural cleaning supplies. I spent hours researching JME and praying that our efforts would help Andrew. The hand tremors continued and every morning I feared he would collapse into a convulsive seizure, but he never did...so we stayed the course. Another abnormal EEG but no more tremors and no seizures...so we continued our healthier lifestyle. No one complained.

When Andrew started having debilitating headaches, the physicians assistant recommended some more dietary changes along with using peppermint and lavender essential oils on his forehead, temples and neck. He was also prescribed a pain killer for the headaches but we found that the oils were pretty effective in managing the pain and he seldom needed the medicine. At one point our neurologist expressed such surprise that Andrew's tremors had not turned into full blown convulsive seizures, which usually occurs within months of the first hand tremors. He simply said, "keep doing what you're doing because whatever it is, it's working." So that's what we did.

Four years after his diagnosis, after numerous abnormal EEGs, Andrew went in for another sleep-deprived EEG and the results...NORMAL! We were so happy but we didn't change a thing.

For over 6 years we've managed his epilepsy this way... with no medicine.
Recently, he went in for his final test...a 48 hour sleep deprived EEG test. No 'sparks', as our neurologist calls them{abnormal spikes}. The doctor told Andrew that he 'graduated' from his office and doesn't need to come back to see him but urged him to continue following his healthy lifestyle to manage his JME.

I don't know how or why the changes worked for Andrew's brain. I just know that they did. If you're struggling with managing your child's JME you may want to consider making the lifestyle changes above. While I can't guarantee that they will work for your child, they can't hurt. I wish you the best.



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Taco Casserole

Photo credit
This is a recipe that my mom made for us when I was in high school. I remember when she returned to work after being home for many years, she bought a few casserole and crockpot cookbooks. The recipe came from this cookbook:
Photo credit
My family enjoys this recipe so I thought I'd share it with you. 

Taco Casserole

You'll need 

these

ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef {or turkey}
  •  1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  •  2 tbs. taco sauce
  •  2-4 tsp. chili powder
  •  1 tsp. garlic salt
  •  2 cups tortilla chips {we use doritos, too}
  •  1 cup sour cream
  •  1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1 tomato chopped
  •   1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 - 15 oz. can kidney beans {we prefer black beans}

The 

directions:

1. Cook and drain beef.

2.  Stir in beans, tomato sauce, taco sauce, chili powder and garlic salt. Heat to boiling.

3.  Crumble/ crush up chips and place in an un-greased 2 qt. casserole baking dish.

4.  Top with the beef mixture.

5. Spread with sour cream

6. Sprinkle with onions, chopped tomato and the shredded cheese.

7.  Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Important Questions to Ask Your Child's New Teacher


It's that time of year...back to school. My first day with students is Tuesday!
So, as a mom and a teacher, I do my best to anticipate the types of questions that parents may have when they enter my classroom at the beginning of the school year and I try to touch on those things at our open house or parent-teacher conference.

Here are some questions that you might want to ask your child's new teacher at the beginning of the year:

How can we support at home what you are doing in the classroom?

This sets the tone for the year and let's the teacher know that you view your child's education as a joint effort. The best education for your child comes from a partnership between the parent and teacher. Teachers appreciate parents who do their part, and parents appreciate teachers who view them as a member of their learning team. It helps if a parent knows the language, procedures, routines and expected responsibilities so that they can encourage and reinforce them at home. 

What are your goals for your students for this year?

Teachers set all kinds of academic goals for their students but we also set non-academic goals, as well. Sometimes we set goals to make children better problem solvers or critical thinkers.
Sometimes we want children to learn how to collaborate on class projects and assignments and sometimes, we want children to learn how to build a community within the confines of our classroom.  As a teacher, I spend much of the day on teaching the whole child. Social skills, friendship, treating others with respect and kindness...all of these are just as, if not more important than the academics I teach.
By asking the question, you have a pretty good insight into the teacher's philosophy and style.

What is the best way to contact you?

This is an important question because today's parents can contact teachers via notes, email, texts, phone calls or in person. Your child's teacher will probably have a preferred method. Many teachers check emails frequently throughout the day, while some only check in once a day. Some teachers prefer phone calls after school, and some allow you to call them at home, later in the evening. Finding out the preferred method will open up the lines of communication between home and school. 

Along those same lines...

How should I expect us to communicate about what the students are learning in school? How often should I expect communication?

Some teachers utilize a website to communicate about what the students are studying in class and any upcoming events, while others send out weekly or monthly newsletters. 

What would you like to know about my child that would help you as his/her teacher?

Let's face it, you know your child better than anyone. The more you can tell a teacher about your child, the better a teacher can help meet your child's needs. 
Share with the teacher about your child's personality traits, interests, how they learn best, strengths or areas of concern. 

Think about their work habits, seating preferences- do they get distracted sitting by a window? Do they check out when they are sitting at the back of the room? 

All of these things can help a teacher meet your child's needs. 

Also, don't forget to share with the teacher about any family situations that may affect your child's learning, such as a divorce or the illness of a family member. 



What is your homework policy? How can I support my child with their homework?

You probably have seen this letter written by a teacher in Texas regarding her new homework policy. 


I actually agree with this teacher's policy and I seldom give homework other than a "let's talk about it" {have conversations about certain assigned topics} or  daily reading for 20 minutes. I'm a firm believer that evenings should be for friends and family but...if you talk to parents with children in other classrooms, you will find that homework is not created equal. Some teachers give large amounts of assignments, while others rarely give any. Some give homework nightly which is due the next day, while others like to give out the whole weeks worth on Mondays so that students can work on it throughout the week and then is handed in at the end of the week.
When you find out your teacher's homework policy, be sure to understand the role you will play. Does the teacher want the parent to check the homework, identify the wrong answers and help them correct it? Or does the teacher just want you to check to make sure the work is completed and leave the incorrect answers so that they can be addressed in the classroom? You might want to ask about which strategies you could use at home to assist your child with his/ her homework.

What should I know about how you manage the classroom?

It's important to know about the teachers expectations of student behaviors in the classroom. Will there be incentives or any special behavior systems in place? Most elementary teachers have some type of behavior management in place. It is helpful for you to know what it is so that you could support the teacher and reinforce the positive behaviors at home. You might even want to utilize a similar behavior management system at home for consistency. 

On a side note, please realize that a teacher really wants to answer all of your questions but sometimes open house is overwhelming for them and they may not get to every question. If you have a burning question that is not answered by the teacher, a simple phone call or email is all you may need. Good luck and welcome back to school!







Monday, August 29, 2016

Weekly Intention and Meal Plan ~ August 29


Setting weekly intentions is a simple, effective way to find your focus and keep you in that driven, motivated mindset. I find, that writing intentions down makes it all the more easier to get things done and to really live an intentional life. Whatever is on your to do list, I believe it’s the little choices you make each day that will get you that step closer to developing the true YOU!
My weekly intention:  School starts{meetings & classroom setup} this week for me, which means it's back to early mornings, long commutes, after school meetings and sports schedules to keep track of. This is when I put so much pressure on myself to make good meals, be a great teacher, keep a clean house, be a loving, supportive wife and just plain 'ole Wonder woman! It's exhausting. 
So, this week I will be gentle with myself. I will accept the fact that I am doing the best that I can and my best is good enough! 

Choices I Want to Make:
  • One: I will choose to practice self-care. Permission granted to take a time-out; sit down and just relax. Do what makes my heart happy.
  • Two: I will choose to move my body everyday. I have more energy and feel better about myself when I exercise. I will make the time for myself. 
  • Three: I will choose to focus on living in gratitude. 
Top Goals this Week:
Work: I will happily set up my classroom. Make it look joyful and add little personal touches that will make it a place that I love to come into everyday.
Personal: Drink more water. I've had headaches everyday lately and I know it's because I'm not staying hydrated. 
Family: Plan one fun outing- Sky High Adventure Park!

This Week I want to remember:
  • Be gentle with yourself. You're doing the best that you can. Your best is good enough!


During the summer, I really slack in the area of meal planning. Now, it's back to school which means back to schedules.

Here's what we are eating this week:

Monday: 
Tuesday:

Wednesday:
Thursday:
Burrito Bowls
 

Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Our last weekend out at the cottage before school starts.  Most of our dinners are cooked out on the grill - chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs and of course picnic-style side dishes. 

I hope you join me in setting your weekly intentions and also in meal planning. I am linking up at orgjunkie.com in order to stay motivated! Hope you have a great week!


http://orgjunkie.com/menu-plan-monday-guidelines










































Pasta Caprese

Photo Source
My girls love Caprese salad so when I found this oldie but goodie in my recipe box, I whipped it up and they weren't disappointed.

You'll need 

these

ingredients:

  •  3/4 cup Olive Oil
  •  1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  •  1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  •  1/4 tsp. salt
  •  1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes {use less if you don't like spicy}
  •  1/8 tsp. black pepper
  •  1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
  •  1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  •   1 pound pasta 

The 

directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt, red pepper and black pepper. 

2.  Add the tomatoes and cheese. Toss well to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3.  Cook pasta according to instructions on box; drain. 

4.  Place the pasta in a large bowl. Add the tomato mixture and toss until well combined allowing cheese to melt slightly.

5. Serve warm.

Enjoy!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Making Positive Affirmation Photos for College Students


Affirmations are positive, specific statements that help you to overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. They help you visualize, and believe in, what you're affirming to yourself, helping you to make positive changes to your life, at school or your career.
 There is evidence that the use of positive affirmations can successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression, or those under chronic stress, like our college students. Quite a lot of how we do in life depends on our mindset. If we begin to replace those negative thoughts and conversations in our minds with positive ones, we can actually begin to reprogram our thinking patterns. 
So try looking at positive affirmations this way – many of us do repetitive exercises to improve our body's physical health and condition. Affirmations are like exercises for our mind and outlook; these positive mental repetitions can reprogram our thinking patterns so that, over time, we begin to think, and act, in a new way.
Each month I like to send a care package to my son who is away at college. I know it helps to lift his spirits and helps remind him that he is loved and remembered. This year, I've decided that I'm going to add little positive affirmation photos for him. These are affirmations that I know his heart is needing to hear right now as he settles into his sophomore year and begins his classes. 

How to write affirmations for your child:

1. Think about your child's positive attributes or the things that you want him to know you love about him. Make a list of all the beautiful things about your child. 
2. Think about the negative thoughts or conversations that your child may be having with themselves. You know, the little conversations that you have when they are down on themselves and you try to build them up? The things they beat themselves up over. The lies they tell themselves. 
"I am not ____ enough."    
" I am terrible at math. I just can't understand."
"I really don't have any friends."
"I'm all alone here at school. I'll never fit in."
3. Prioritize what you think your child's heart is needing to hear right now. For example, I know my son is feeling anxious about the harder classes he will be taking this semester and that he is now living in a suite with 3 other boys. I know that he feels a little left out when he leaves home. He is very family oriented and feels like he's missing out on family activities when he is away. I think about how he might be feeling right now and what he needs to believe about himself in order to move forward. 
4. Now it's time to write the affirmations. I think about the negative thoughts he might be thinking and then write a counter-script. Begin the affirmation with "I" and write in a present tense as if this is happening right now. Here are a few examples:
  • I love myself even though I sometimes fail. 
  • I enjoy challenging myself in new ways, possibilities and directions.
  • I turn failures into opportunities for success.
  • I am brave.
  • I am beloved. 
  • I feel confident and secure.
5. Look through pictures on your phone or camera. Pick ones you think your child would like. Then go to Picmonnkey. Click edit and download a photo from your computer. Select the photo you would like to edit. You can crop or add effects and then add text to your picture. I picked different fonts and colors to mix it up a bit. When you are satisfied with your photo save it to your computer and then order prints. It's that easy! 
Here are the affirmation photos I made to tuck into Septembers care package:





 















I know he is going to love these and because I chose pictures with special meaning, he will put them out where he can see them with their affirmations. Every time he looks at them and reads the affirmation it will help him to to reprogram his thinking pattern. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Adjusting to College~ Understanding the W-Curve

Last year when my husband and I attended our son's parent orientation at St. Bonaventure University, the woman in charge of student wellness explained to us the W-Curve and how it relates to freshmen college students adjusting to their new environment. I had never heard of it before but it was something that made so much sense to me and seemed to outline the exact stages that my son experienced as he adjusted to college life. 
 My niece leaves for her freshman year of college tomorrow and it got me thinking that not all parents have heard about the W-Curve so I thought I'd share it here. 

So what is the W-Curve?
The W-Curve is a predictable pattern of  5 stages that occur when a person experiences culture shock. It's normal to have the ups and downs of the W-Curve, and knowing about this may help make the transition easier. Sometimes, at the first signs of culture shock, first year students may think this means they have made a mistake about going away to college or that they have chosen the wrong school. If students and parents can see that this is just part of a journey that everyone goes through, then they may be better able to take it all in stride. 


Honeymoon: This stage often starts before students arrive on campus. It typically begins once they have chosen and been accepted to college, and continues to build as students attend orientation, choose their roommate and residence hall, and as they continue through their process of getting ready for college.
Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:
  • Enthusiasm and desire to meet new people
  • Freedom and exhilaration as they move away from parental oversight and begin taking responsibility for their own lifestyle
  • Returning students become peer mentors and the staff and faculty assist them through a variety of ice-breakers and first-week activities
  • Homesickness mixed in with all the fun and energy of their new experience
Culture Shock: As the newness of the college culture begins to wear off, freshmen begin to deal with the reality of all the adjustments they are going through. In the Residence Halls, students are adapting to roommates, sharing a room, shared bathrooms, lots of neighbors, eating in a cafeteria, and the diversity that comes with meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures.The process of making new friends is fun, but can also be draining.

Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Difficulty finding their way around and feel lost
  • Excitement about living with a roommate and on their own wears off
  • Adjustment to new surroundings and expectations are hard to adjust to
  • Academic expectations are harder than anticipated- they may experience a few bad grades
  • Homesickness may become stronger and some students may begin asking to come home more often and reach out more to their high school friends
Initial Adjustment:  Students begin to feel an upswing as they begin to successfully manage many of the issuers they faced during Culture Shock. Students begin to feel more "at home" on campus. 
Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:
  • Minor roommate irritations begin to diminish
  • Students fall into a routine and gain confidence in their ability to handle academic and social environments of college
  • Students begin to make friends outside of their initial connections
  • They feel they have regained some sense of control and normalcy in their lives. Conflicts and challenges may still continue to come and go, but students are now feeling more in the swing of things.

Mental Isolation:
This phase commonly arises after the students go home for an extended break. Strong feelings of homesickness begin to arise or re-arise for students and they often feel as though they are caught between two worlds. College life is still not as comfortable as home and now home is not as familiar as it once was. 
Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:
  •   Shock over changes that have happened at home and not having been a part of them
  •   Feeling of homesickness for a home environment that no longer seems to exist
  •   Doubts regarding choice in college, major, career and other decisions begin to surface
  •   Beliefs and values begin to be challenged and they may not be able to adapt to the ideas and
      values of the university culture
  •   Larger roommate issues surface and students tend to sit alone in their room or find outlets to
      escape their housing situation
  •   Cliques may form and students may feel that getting to know others is harder than before
Acceptance & Integration: As students become more involved in campus opportunities, gain some history with new friends, and get to know faculty and staff members, they begin to feel a true connection to the campus community. They begin to have a more balanced and realistic view of the university, seeing and integrating the good experiences with the challenges.
Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:
  •   Students begin to refer to college as their “home”
  •   They feel as though they are part of their new environment/community
  •   Roommate issues are likely resolved or overcome and new friends are made on and off-        campus
  •   Home values are reconciled with university values
  •   Dependence on parents and former peers begins to lessen 

Leaving your child at college the first time is gut-wrenching. It was so helpful to know what we could expect. Understanding the W-Curve helped us so that we could offer the correct amount and type of support for our son. I wish you all the best of luck!






Saturday, July 2, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie



When I was a child my grandma lived in a small town out in the country.  Every June, right around Father's Day, we'd go out the visit my grandma. My grandma and my mom would take my sisters and I down the street to a farm where we would spend hours in the strawberry fields filling our baskets to the rim with red, sweet, ripe strawberries. With fingers stained crimson and bellies full, we would make our way back to the house.

Gram would send me out back to cut stalks of rhubarb that grew along the foundation of her home while she washed the berries and prepared the pie crusts.

Side by side, we sat at her kitchen table cutting the rhubarb into small chunks and slicing the strawberries until we had enough to fill the pie crusts.

We'd talk about everything and nothing...mostly gram talked about her childhood...and when she paused, you could hear Paul Harvey's voice in the background, "and now you know the rest of the story..."


Later, after dinner, gram would serve the yummiest strawberry rhubarb pie complete with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! So good!!!

Sadly, my grandma is gone now and so is her house out in the country...
But, every June, I head out to the strawberry patch with my husband and kids and we pick flats of beautiful, juicy, red strawberries. I tell them the stories that Gram told me and when we get home, I walk out behind my shed and cut stalks of rhubarb. We play oldies on the radio and reminisce as we make our favorite strawberry rhubarb pie.

So, in honor of my grandma's birthday (which was yesterday)  I decided to make a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie...and because it's so yummy, and super easy to make, I decided to share the recipe with you!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

You will need these ingredients:

  • 3 cups ripe strawberries, chopped
  • 3 cups rhubarb stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup tapioca
  • 2 pie crusts(9-10 inch)

The directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1.  Place one pie crust into a pie dish that has been sprinkled with flour.
2.  Mix the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Pour the ingredients into the prepared pie crust.
4.  Place the second pie crust on top of the mixture. Fold the excess  dough under the bottom crust to make a nice thick edge. Pinch to flute. Slice 4 slits into the top of the pie crust. Brush on a small amount of water over the crust and sprinkle with sugar.
5.  Place the pie into the preheated oven. Bake for 15 min. 
6.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and crust is browned.
7. Let cool 1 hour before serving.
8.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

 Enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2016

July Goals


I've decided to come back here to my blog to share my thoughts and set my intentions. With this week being the 26th week of the year...we are halfway through 2016 and I thought it would be the perfect time for me to reflect. I realize when I don't write down my goals and intentions, I am less present in my life and minutes, days, weeks and months pass without me really noticing. 
July is a perfect time to slow down. Seek out a shady nook, a cold drink, a cool breeze...a respite from the rigors of the day and really be aware of the world around me.

So, here is my first installment of my monthly goals. I will set myself goals each month with the intention to uplift my heart, mind, body and soul in some way that works for me. 

MY GOALS FOR JULY:


1. Cut portion size of my meals
I am aware that while I usually eat very healthy food, I just eat way too much! I want to cut down on the amount of food that I consume at each meal in an attempt to drop 10 pounds this month. I will focus on filling half of my plate with non-starchy vegetables. 

2. Exercise/ Move my body daily
I've been slacking in the exercise area and my body is paying the price. I am stiff in the morning and my joints ache. Plus, every piece of clothing I own feels tight on me. I fell like complete crap and I know that I feel so much better when I move my body every day. I am going to start with walking 2 miles and add intensity{jogging} as I feel ready. I also want to incorporate stretching/ yoga 2 times per week along with squats, lunges and planks. 

3. List at least 10 items on Etsy
Recently, I've had numerous custom orders for leather cuffs, necklaces, earrings, money clips and key chains from friends and colleagues and many people are encouraging me to open up my shop. My goal is to photograph and list items for sale by the end of the month. 

4. Read a book a week
I started my year off doing this and it was a wonderful way for me to sit down and relax each night. What I found, however, was that I would stay up way to late reading just to finish a book. I want to get back to reading again but will need to make sure to turn off my lights at a decent time. 

5. List 4 Products on Teachers Pay Teachers
As an ESOL teacher, I modify curriculum and create new materials on a daily basis during the school year. I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work and kick myself for not doing more to get prepared during the summer. I've built in 2 hours into my schedule each week just to create new materials. Then, I will list them in my store so that other teachers will be able to reap the benefits!

6. Take photos daily
Two years ago I started Project Life. I loved the concept but then of course fell into the dreaded comparison trap. I drooled over beautifully designed spreads on Instagram and Pinterest. I felt like I needed to be doing so much more and then of course I  couldn't possibly live up to my unrealistic expectations...so I just quit. The problem with that is I am really slacking at documenting my life and capturing memories. So, today I once again downloaded the Collect app. and set up reminders on my phone to help ensure that I take photos every day.  No expectations...just capturing the little moments in my life. 

7. Hang up my clothes right away 
My room is out of control. I just need to make this a habit...end of story!

8. Try 3 new recipes 
I love to cook and have some beautiful cookbooks that I want to work my way through. This is the month that I finally begin doing that!

9. Set aside time to cultivate creativity every day
I am joining the Cultivate Creativity Challenge at Handmade U this month in order to bring creativity back into my life and kick the excuses to the curb! 

10. Write 4 blog posts per week
I just need to do this in order to hold myself accountable. 

So there you have it. What are your goals for July?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Gram's French Toast with Berry Butter

NOTE OF CAUTION:
 This is NOT what constitutes a healthy, low-fat, or low-carb breakfast...I know, but sometimes you just need a little something naughty to get you going in the morning...

Gram's French Toast with Berry Butter



To make berry butter you simply whip 1 stick of room temperature butter until smooth.


Add in fresh blackberries (I used about 1/2 cup) and stir just a few times until the berries break up.

You can refrigerate the butter for a little bit but we like ours soft, so I just set it aside while I whip up the french toast.

**We -ish it around here but if you refer to The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier, you will find a very similar recipe with many more explicit instructions**

French Toast

**Some people are picky about the type of bread that they use for french toast. I am not...I just think that any type of squishy bread will work. I almost always make french toast on a whim so I just use whatever I have in the pantry, which is usually just plain old white bread... but feel free to experiment with different types if you'd like.**

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Slices of bread 
Butter, for frying

Directions:


Break the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and whisk to break up the yolks. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and whisk to blend. 

Place a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat and put in enough butter to completely coat the bottom of the skillet. This is not the time to worry about calories...don't skimp on the butter. This is what will make the outside nice and crispy while the insides are soft and creamy.



While the butter is melting, dip the bread into the egg mixture until the bread feels heavy and thoroughly saturated.

Place the bread into the skillet. Cook until the underside is golden brown... about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side until golden, another 2 minutes. 

Remove from skillet, place on plate, slather with berry butter and hot maple syrup.

Now let's see that again...


So good...Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake




Sometimes when life is getting you down the best thing to do is grab a few people that you love, throw on an apron, and bake a cake. Then, when you are all done, go ahead and give it away to someone who you believe needs it more than you do.
 You will seriously make their day with this one.

You will need
these ingredients to make
the Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Here are 
the directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Spray three 8 inch round cake pans. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugar, eggs,buttermilk oil and vanilla extract. 
2. Carefully add in the boiling water. Mix well for about 1 minute. 

Batter will be very thin. It's not like most cake batters. Don't worry it is NOT ruined!

3. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-20 minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Let cool.

You will need
these ingredients to make the 
Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 cup salted butter (softened)
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk

Here are the 
directions:

1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until creamy. 2.  Gradually add the sugar. 
3. When it starts to get thick, add the milk a little bit at a time until  the frosting is spreadable. 
4. Beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy.


You will need
these ingredients to make the 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Here are 
the directions:

1. Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a metal bowl. 
2. Heat cream over medium heat. Watch it closely and immediately remove from heat when it starts to boil. 
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Let sit for 2 minutes. 
4. Slowly stir the mixture until all of the chips have completely melted and its thoroughly combined. 
5. Stir in the vanilla and corn syrup. Let the ganache cool to thicken.

How to Assemble the Cake:

1. Open a 12 oz. bag of Reese's miniatures. Put aside 12 to garnish your cake and chop the rest. 

2.  Place a small amount of peanut butter frosting onto the cake stand or serving dish and place one of the chocolate cakes on the frosting.   
3. Slide small pieces of wax paper under the cake in order to keep your plate nice and clean while you frost. 
4. Spread peanut butter frosting on the first layer.
5. Sprinkle a layer of Reese's on top. Press them down into the frosting. {You're supposed to use a spatula, but fingers work, too!} 



6. Repeat with the second cake layer. 
 7. Place your third cake layer on top, then cover the whole cake with peanut butter frosting. 
(Need help stacking& frosting a cake...check out this short video for a few hints)

8. Pour ganache on the top of the cake, and smooth it with a spatula. 
9. Garnish the cake with a little extra frosting and your remaining Reese's. 
10. Carefully remove the waxed paper and enjoy!



Thank you Pinterest &  Robin . For this Yumminess!