Monday, January 30, 2012

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

I went home to Cleveland once again. This time to finally get my license plates for my car (my new car :)). I made another meal for my parents. This time it was a cheesy chicken and rice bake. You can also find the recipe here! I'm going to give the regular recipe. I doubled it thinking that it wasn't going to be enough. Not true. The regular recipe serves 5, so no worries!

What you need:
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz can green chilis
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro for garnish

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut fat off chicken as necessary. Put in sauce pan with a little oil and cook thoroughly.
  3. As the chicken is cooling cook rice as recommended on the box.
  4. As the rice is cooking put all ingredients, except for the cilantro, together in a large bowl.
  5. Shred the chicken as you like. I pulled it apart with my hands, but you can chop it up too.
  6. Add the chicken and rice and mix everything together, also add salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Put in an oven safe dish and top with cheese.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated thoroughly.
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sausage Pepper Penne

When I was creating a small menu for my mom I looked to Mackenzie for help because she is always cooking up something. I found this recipe here. The thing I like about cooking is that you can easily change something up and still have it taste delicious. I pretty much followed her recipe but did a few things differently.

What you need:

  • 3 peppers, chopped (go with the colorful ones!)
  • 4-5 spicy Italian sausages
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • Basil leave spice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Penne pasta
  • Salt and pepper
Directions:
  1. Put balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a sauce pan (enough to cove the bottom like I have pictured). Sprinkle the basil leaves, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Steep on low heat for 10 minutes.
  2. Cook the sausages in another sauce pan with a little oil and the garlic. Make sure to turn the pieces over so each side cooks.
  3. As the sausage was cooking I cut up the peppers and the onion. I then added it to the balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture. I turned up the heat to medium-high heat and cooked it for 6-8 minutes.
  4. When the 6-8 minutes was up I turned the heat low and let it sit to keep it warm.
  5. Remove the sausage and start boiling water for the pasta. Cook the pasta following the box directions.
  6. At this point I cut up the sausage into pieces. It still wasn't cooked all the way so I added it to the pepper mixture to finish cooking.
  7. When pasta is finish, drain.
  8. Put the pasta in bowls and top with the peppers and sausage.
  9. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

You may or may not know that my mom had surgery yesterday to remove the breast cancer the doctors found. My sister and I came back for the procedure. It was a long morning. Fortunately, everything went well and my mom will find out in a week if they got it all out!

Since my mom needs to recover I thought that I would help make meals ahead of time so that all my parents had to do was warm them up. My parents, especially my mom, don't eat a lot to begin with so it was hard to find a balance of too much food versus not enough. Yesterday, I made Broccoli Quinoa Casserole which I made before and can be found here. Thanks to the help of my wonderful Aunt Jackie, today I made chicken and dumpling soup (something I know my dad wanted because my grandma used to make it).

Now, my aunt asked me if I had any questions about the recipe. I said 'no' because I thought I didn't. Well, it is just like me to say that because I always end up having a million questions when I actually start doing things. So, the way I cooked it may not be the right way, but when I started cooking it was 9 am here and my aunt lives in San Francisco. She would not have been happy to be getting a phone call from me so early. :)

**I also doubled this recipe, but I'm giving the smaller version

What you will need:
Soup
  • 1 soup chicken (I used a package with white and dark meat)
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 3 1/2 quarts water
  • 2 onions
  • 2 sprigs dill (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 carrots (I would recommend just getting a bundle unless you don't like carrots)
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 sprigs parsley (I put a lot in my soup)
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper salt
  • 1-2 bay leaves
Dumplings
  • 2/3 cup Farina (cream of wheat NOT instant) - I accidentally bought cream of rice and it works just the same!
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 1-2 eggs (beat ahead of adding it together with cooled broth or water)
Directions:
  1. Clean chicken thoroughly. I left everything on the bone to cut up later.
  2. Add chicken, water, carrots, onions, and bouillon to the 3 quarts of water in a large pot.
  3. Bring water to a boil and then cook over medium heat for an hour.
  4. While the broth is cooking start making the dumplings
  5. Mix the farina, flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs together. Place in fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  6. I took the chicken out of the broth and let it cool for a few minutes. Then I removed the skin and removed it from the bone. I then shredded the chicken with my hands.
  7. I then cut up the celery, parsley, and dill.
  8. I added the chicken, celery, parsley, dill, salt, lemon pepper salt, and bay leaves to the mixture.
  9. I took out the dumpling mixture and dropped 1/2 tsp balls into the broth. The dumplings expand, so don't worry if they look super small.
  10. Cover and cook for an additional hour or until the chicken is tender. 
  11. Taste and correct seasonings as needed.
  12. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Feels Good to be a Gangsta'... or a College Graduate


Friday, January 20, 2012

First Visit Since Leaving

Today I went back and visited the school I did my internship at. It also just so happened that they had the student of the week lunch from last quarter today. This meant free pizza. I'm not complaining. It was so strange to be walking to the school like I did every day for 4 months. My mentor teacher was so happy to see me and one of my favorite students couldn't believe I came back. He kept doing these weird movements like he was in disbelief.

I walked into the classroom before advisory and I go, "I'm back!" All the female students went crazy and were like, "OH MY GOSH! You're back!" They all gave me hugs. I missed my advisory kids so much. My MT wanted me to come back today because it was fire pit Friday and this way the students could ask me questions. So, for the fire pit question they were able to ask me any question. I got questions like "Did you find a job?" to "What's your dating life like?" I was asked if I missed them and I said yes. I told them the story of how I came home and once I walked through the door I started bawling. The one student who was at the locker earlier that I meant "balling" as in playing basketball and started laughing. When we all realized why he was laughing I couldn't help but laugh really hard at it. One of my students also told me that when I come back I need to make my oatmeal cookies again. They loved them.

After advisory I stood in the hall and all my former students were going crazy because I was back. I got so many hugs. That pretty much happened in between each class. During class it felt like it used to. I went around and helped the students out with their OGT prep work.

During the student of the week lunch I was talking to some of the teachers catching up on things. One of the other interns said that one of the students said that they other two interns and the math teacher dress boring, not like me and the English teacher. Haha. I'm guessing my clothes made an impact. I think that helps a lot though with rapport with students, especially the girls.

My MT said that he was getting used to life without me, but having me back was a sigh of relief. Later he told me he is going to expect his next intern to be like me. I hope they aren't better! Haha!

My mentor teacher had this poster made for me. When I get my own classroom I'm hanging it up to remind myself that they were the reason I love teaching.


I finally received the book that my one student made and had students write letters to me. I was supposed to get it before I left but since there was a fire drill she didn't have a chance to give it to me. I'm going to share some of my favorites:

"Merry Christmas Ms. Albert. I will miss you dearly and especially all the help in class (20 questions a day) but most of all how nice you were to me. Love, _____"

"I have had a great semester with you this year. I enjoyed my time with you. We laughed all the time together and you believed that I could achieve higher things than I settle for. I will miss you as my teacher, adviser and a friend."

"I'm going to miss you so much Ms. Albert! Everyday I came to school you managed to put a smile on my face. You're one of the best student teachers I ever had. We'll see you later :) (I refuse to say good bye). Sincerely, your fav"

This one is a poem one of my students wrote for me: "She is a sweetheart from the moment she start teacher, as nervous as she was from day one, she still got the work done. She but still joked around with students and had fun. Now that you're leaving the class will never be the same. I remember the first day when we played the name game and I called you Miss Avacado because that's what you liked. We spent almost four months together, and we all miss you. Hope you succeed and come visit us every once and a while."

"I will always miss you. You was one of my favorite teachers. You was funny and helped a lot. Gave me chances others teachers wouldn't have so I will always love and miss you favorite."

"Dear Ms. Albert, You are one of the coolest teachers I ever met. You always find a way to relate to everyone. I will miss you."

"Dear Ms. Albert, I'm going to miss you greatly and I think we'll all go nuts with Mr. _______ now! I think you're the best almost teacher ever and you have killer style. You are the only teacher who hasn't given me a DT. So thanks and I wish you the best, and who ever will have you as a teacher will be lucky. Never forget me!"

"I will miss you dearly. But kinda mad you didn't come to any of my games." -That one made me laugh really hard.

"You know I've loved you since day one! I will truly miss you, and hope that you will come back often so that we may be blessed with your presence again. You are a good teacher and will educate your students well as you did for me. Thank you, love you."

"You will be missed. Love you, Ms. Albert. P.S. Keep on the fashion cause I love yours."

I did not realize there were so many I loved. There were more I loved too, but I don't want to bore you. Anyways, this book is going to be great to have especially my first few years of teaching when things get really hard. I'll just pull it out and be reminded of them. :)

Later today I went to Yagoot with my good friend Katy. It was nice to sit and talk with her. Then we walked around Bed, Bath and Beyond and made fun of all the weird things they have in there because it's something we like to bond over. Haha!

Finally, I got a hair cut yesterday. I needed it, plus I wanted to see Christine one last time (and actually have her cut my hair for once because I've been wanting her to do it). I'm posting a before and after picture. As you can tell I took pictures on two different days!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Conversation with My Mentor Teacher

I've been in contact with my mentor teacher because 1. he's awesome, and 2. he was writing me a letter of recommendation. I already planned on visiting the school again after Christmas break because I loved it there and I miss it. I will be going back this Friday, but this is conversation resulted. My mentor teacher is awesome!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snail Mail

I love mail. Seriously. I might have mentioned this before, but I really do. I don't like junk mail, but I love having pen pals from all over.

I have several people I continually (try) to write to on a regular basis, although that doesn't always happen.

I received a package from my friend, Haruna, who you may remember I talked about in an earlier post. I swear, Japanese packaging and food is the best. It didn't take me long to finish all the snacks she sent. :)


Friday, January 6, 2012

Cleveland V.2: Mentor High Edition

Yes, today is the day I went back to visit my high school. I visited once before in the five years I had been out of it. I don't think I have been back since my sophomore year of college though.

My friend Megan and I wanted to surprise our (well, at least my) favorite teacher ever! She became our 10th grade English teacher in the middle of that year and then we hung out in her classroom ever year until we graduated. I used to go in an straighten her room and grade papers. You could already see a teacher in the making! We invited our friend Kevin along as well because he was also a former student.

When we got there the security guard wouldn't let us walk around the school until the bell rang at the end of the day. We sat on a bench and it was kind of awkward because I felt like people were looking at us like we got in trouble. It was weird being back there though because it seemed so different and yet the same. It felt a lot smaller too, but that might be because the building I did my internship at was huge.

When the bell rang we needed to find her room, but the security guard was busy so we had Megan ask her brother who is a cop at the school to tell us where her room was. She was mad we made her ask him. I thought it was funny, but I also hate asking people for help. I couldn't help but notice the identities high schools in white suburban schools take. It's actually pretty comical, but I was one of them. A lot of being there before we saw our former teacher made me miss my internship and the school and the students there. I really need to stop living in the past though because it's not going to help me get a job.

We found her room and she was so surprised and happy to see us. We talked about our lives and books and many other things. She remembered so much about me that I didn't even remember about myself! Being in her room did make me miss some of the good aspects of high school. I wish I could have visited some other teachers, but she was my all time favorite teacher and the teacher who knew me the best so I don't even care that we spent like 2 hours talking with her.
One of my favorite quotes from the afternoon was from Kevin. When referring to the book The House on Mango Street he called it The House on English Street. I couldn't stop laughing!

Also, Megan was going through the book shelf in the room to see what books there were to read and she picked up James and the Giant Peach. We were all in for a big surprise when we saw the illustrations in the book. I don't know if it's just me but James looks straight up like the devil.

And some other pictures from our journey!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cleveland V.1

I have no idea why I titled this Cleveland V.1 because I don't even know if I'll write a V.2 or 3. Haha. Anyways, I went back to Cleveland for about 2 more weeks because I wanted to spend more time with my mom. Two weeks is not even enough time in the first place because by the time they are up I haven't even seen any of my friends.
Today I hung out with my two best friends, Megan and Becky. That is a picture of us from high school. There was a group of us that were pretty much inseparable but we are the only 3 who remain. It was great to hang out with them. I hadn't seen Megan since the summer, but it was nice to hang out as the 3 of us again.

First, we went to Boston Market, where I worked for 3 years because I wanted to see some of my old co-workers. I do miss working there sometimes because at one point there was an awesome group of people. Every time I go in there the place seems so different, but I'm sure if I went back behind the counter it would all come back to me, minus the change in prices.
 Afterwards we went shopping. We stopped at a new consignment shop. Then we went to Marshall's and TJ Maxx.
Frame from Marshall's I bought for $7.99
The dress I bought at TJ Maxx for $6!
Close up of the dress pattern.
Then Megan and I were falling asleep so we went to Starbucks and talked for a while. It was nice to have some girl talk. I also love talking about people and experiences from high school because most of it is pretty hilarious.

One thing I find about being back home is that I either eat too much or spend too much money. Anyway we are planning on going to Westside Market sometime soon. For all those Cincinnati readers it's like Findlay Market but much bigger (and better)! 
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