book · food · life · present not perfect · through my camera lens

January 14- sensory rich foods

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Good morning (or afternoon or evening depending on when you are reading this). Yesterday I began writing my blog post in the morning and it seemed to make life a bit less crazy in the afternoon, so I’m jumping onto this again this morning. (I posted that photo on I/G this morning, do you follow me on there? @lorif_my_life)

Today’s topic in Present not perfect is sensory foods. I guess the fact that I’m typing this while drinking coffee makes sense. But, let me tell you a bit of a back story. I didn’t drink coffee for a long time. I drank it a bit when I was in grad school and right after, but then stopped. I gave up all caffeine for a long time and only used it to help with migraines. When we moved up to PA I needed something to drink that was warm. I tried hot chocolate and herbal/flavored tea, both of which I like it didn’t do it for me on a regular basis. I already had a Keurig for visitors, so I decided on a whim to pick up some flavored coffee and creamer and now I drink 1-2 cups a day. OH well… I know I was better off without the coffee, but now it is part of my morning and afternoon routines, well at least during the cold months.

What are your favorite sensory rich foods? Use them to help you push pause in a crazy day.

Circle (underline) your favorites from the list and then add some of your ownImage may contain: dessert and food

  • hard candy
  • breath mint
  • chocolate
  • hot tea

For me, many of my sensory rich foods aren’t instant things: fresh baked cookies, pizza hot out of the oven, and homemade soups/stews. These are things that make my mouth water. The smells, the textures, the tastes… it hits more than just taste.

For the I need it now sensory foods-

chocolate! (but it has to be good chocolate not a Hershey bar, but something on the line of ghiradelli dark chocolate or a Lindt truffle)

coke– the flavor, the fizz, the caffeine

Image may contain: foodcoffee- I’ve always loved the scent, now with a bit of flavoring I like the taste too

peppermint- true peppermint is the best. I love these soft peppermints, but eat way too many of them. The container is almost gone, this is a good thing!

What are your favorite sensory rich foods? Do you gravitate towards them when times are stressful?



family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Alton Brown’s Chicken Parm

If you follow me on I/G, you may have noticed that I’ve started playing “What am I making for dinner” as my I/G story from time to time.

This recipe was shared on there, and yes there were a LOT more pictures on my I/G story, but I took a few to share on here too.

Richard and I are HUGE Alton Brown fans. We have seen him live twice, watch him on YouTube and his tv shows. I also follow him in I/G and Facebook, oh and have one of his cookbooks that I use all the time. When he announced that he was re-launching Good Eats, we knew we’d be watching and making more of his recipes.

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The first episode was Chicken Parm. Who doesn’t love a GOOD chicken parm? Don’t get me wrong there are some really bad or just ok chicken parms out there, but I love a good chicken parm. So we decided this would be a good one to try… so we did!

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  • 2  boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 120 grams (1 cup) plain breadcrumbs
  • 20 grams salt and vinegar potato chips, not kettle cooked or thick cut
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 70 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour (I needed more)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red sauce, divided, recipe follows
  • 2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 ounces Italian fontina, shredded
  • 2 ounces of Parmesan, shredded
  1. Cut the flattened chicken into 6-8 pieces per breast.
  2. Salt and place on a rack on top of a cookie sheet
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 min
  4. This is when I made the red sauce, see below for steps and heated the oven to broil
  5. Combine the breadcrumbs, potato chips, oregano, parsley and garlic powder in a gallon zip-top bag and crush into a course meal.
  6. set up a breading station (flour, egg, crumbs from step 5).
  7. Dry off chicken then put through the breading process. place on another rack over a cookie sheet to collect any excess coating
  8. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams, add half the breaded chicken to the pan, but don’t overcrowd. Cook, undisturbed, until crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the clean rack, wipe out the pan and repeat with the remaining butter, oil and chicken
  9. Spread 3/4 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of a a 9-by-13-inch broiler-safe baking dish and broil about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove the dish from the oven and arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer. Dot the chicken with the remaining red sauce,  Scatter the cheeses over the sauce.
  11. put back under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown
  12. enjoy!

Red Sauce

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  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • One 2-inch Parmesan rind
  1. grate garlic on micoplane to form a paste
  2. mix with 1/4 cup EVOO and salt
  3. cook in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until it begins to brown
  4. add the anchovies and break down with a wooden spatula
  5. add strained tomatoes and break up with wooden spatula
  6. submerge the Parmesan rind
  7. reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 1 hour or until the sauce looks “dry”
  8. discard the rind and use the rest for the chicken parm


This was sooooooo good. We really enjoyed this chicken parm. I used 3 breasts since that was what was in the pack we purchased. Since it didn’t all fit into the pan we had some that did not have sauce on it. This was a really good breaded chicken patty.

So here is what I’d do different… I enjoyed the sauce that was in the bottom of the pan that had been broiled, but I didn’t like having the chicken on top of it as it started to get soggy. So next time I will put one pan in the oven with just sauce, and another one with the chicken and cheese and make my own chicken parms tableside!


blog hop · family · food · life

Back to School Blog Hop- Day 4

I hope you are enjoying my first blog hop, and even more I hope you join in the fun!Image may contain: text

Here is how it will go. I have posted seven different school/fall topics for you to use as blog posts. You can write them for seven days in a row, scattered throughout the month or however you so choose! Here are the topics: first day of school, favorite school supply, teacher who made a difference, apples, a new box of crayons, new friends and what’s in your lunchbox

All I ask is:

  • Please copy and post this image with your post
  • link back to my blog so we know who is playing along
  • have fun! remember you can take these topics in any direction you want… just use the idea as a jumping off point.


Apples are a fall favorite around here. All of us love to eat apples, but there is nothing better than going apple picking at a local farm and then eating those fresh picked apples.

Every fall the local farm has a fall festival where you can go and pick apples in their orchard. We then use them to eat, make applesauce and apple pies. Apples is also a theme I always teach. It is a great way to teach parts of a plant and physical changes. My students always love when we make homemade applesauce. I am often shocked to see how many students do not know how applesauce is made.

Now here is part of the interesting things in my family… my husband and the boys like apples that I think taste like pears (which I don’t like) such as gold delicious, red delicious and fuji apples. While I prefer McIntosh and granny smith apples I guess I like apples that are better for baking/cooking than the ones that are typically just eaten.

Oh and in case you want to know. I do not have a collection of apple items. Shhh don’t tell anyone, but I never keep any of the teacher gifts people give me. I’m sorry, but I’ve been teaching over 14 years if I kept every apple gift or best teacher ever gift, my house and classroom would be FULL of these items. Please, please, please… do not give teachers teacher gifts!

OK… so now it is your turn. What do you think of apples? Do you have a favorite apple? Do you like to bake with apples? If you are a teacher, do you like to get apple items from your students? Join in my blog hop and have fun posting about all things back to school.

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Pub Cookies

Richard and some of his co-workers were having a craft beer exchange at work on Thursday. I decided that was the perfect reason to bake! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bake. I started by searching through my pile of recipes we cut out the of the food network magazines. There I found a brownie recipe that used beer in it. I didn’t have everything to make this specific recipe, but I thought it was a good jumping off point to search for a new recipe.

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I sent Richard 3 different ideas (two different types of cookies and a different brownie recipe). He decided on Pub Cookies. So… that’s what I made!

Pub Cookies

  • 12 ounces stout beer
  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (this will make them chewy)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips (I didn’t measure these I just dumped the bag)
  • 1 cup pretzel twists, broken into pieces
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  1. Put the beer in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook down the beer until you have about 1 Tbsp of beer “extract” (watch the pan, I got distracted and my beer boiled over… oops!)
  2. Cream butter and sugars
  3. Add egg and yolk
  4. Add vanilla and beer extracts
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt
  6. Add dry to wet ingredients until just combined
  7. Stir in chips and pretzels
  8. Dish cookies onto a cookie sheet and put into the fridge for at least 3 hours
  9. Heat oven to 350
  10. Bake 12-20 min (start checking around 12 min, my batches both took about 14 min)
  11. enjoy!
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These cookies do NOT taste like beer. Yes this is a strong beer and it was concentrated by cooking out the water, but it still didn’t taste like beer in a chocolate chip cookie. There is slight bitter taste that brings out those notes in the chocolate chips. The cookies are very chewy and have a great chocolate chip cookie flavor. The hit of pretzel adds an additional salty feature. (The original recipe calls for honey roasted peanuts. I would add peanuts, but not honey roasted)

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Maple BBQ Sloppy Joes

Image may contain: food and indoorWhen I was looking for items to put on our weekly menu, I decided to search through Rachael Ray’s sloppy joe recipes, she has quite a few. I came across her Sloppy Maple-BBQ Turkey Joes recipe and decided it would be a good one to try. So… I did!

First I made hoagie rolls. This is a recipe that I’ve used before, and that we enjoy. There is something great about the smell of fresh baked bread in the house. I don’t make it often enough, but I do love it when I do bake bread.


Maple BBQ Sloppy Joes

  • EVOO
  • 1 pound ground turkey Image may contain: food
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1  red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1  onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • About 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • About 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • About 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • About 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  1. put EVOO on a large skillet
  2. add ground turkey with S&P
  3. Once turkey browns, add peppers, onions and garlic– cook about 5 min
  4. in a small bowl whisk together tomato sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and mustard.
  5. Add to the meat and veggies, mix in and let simmer for 5-10 min

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We really enjoyed this recipe. I had mine just on the plate, but tried a bite of Richard’s sandwich. Blake and Colby both enjoyed it too, but found it very filling. There was a good balance of sweet and tang in this recipe. I added more vinegar than RR suggested, I had originally found the recipe VERY sweet.

Richard suggested adding hot sauce to the mix next time which would be a sweet heat item. Also, the original recipe calls for poultry seasoning, which I purchased to use and then totally forgot to add to the recipe… oops!

I know that we will make this recipe again!


family · food · through my camera lens

Beef Skewers– Colby’s recipe

Colby cooked dinner last night. He originally pulled out a recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Kebobs, but he decided to Colby-ize them… yep he’s my son!

On Friday, Colby created his own marinade for the meat and put it over the meats to give it a chance to do it’s magic!

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Then yesterday, he helped prep the veggies and put the meat and veggies on skewers.

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Beef Kebobs from Colby

  • 2lb beef stew
  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • dried parsley
  • dried garlic flakes
  • dried onion flakes
  • Mr Dash- garlic
  • EVOO
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • steak sauce
  • S & P
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 large onion
  1. The night before create marinade and put over beef. Image may contain: food
  2. Marinade: combine all the spices (including S&P), EVOO, Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce
  3. Mix marinade well and pour over meats. Mix together to make sure all pieces are coated.
  4. Next day– take out beef and let come to room temp before cooking
  5. Chop onions and peppers into chunks
  6. Season onions and peppers with S&P and EVOO
  7. Put beef on skewers, put veggies on skewers
  8. Cook on the grill
  9. Enjoy! (we made rice and had provolone cheese with it, but that is optional)

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These tasted really good. I was impressed that Colby was comfortable enough to create his marinade without needing me to give him the exact measurements for the spices. I just pulled out a bunch of spices and he picked and choose what he wanted and went from there. The only one I had any suggestion in was the amount of salt. So often people do not put enough salt on beef to get the taste that works best.

Blake said it was the best beef he’d had in a while. Colby enjoyed it too and was proud of what he created. I felt the veggies needed more seasoning and a bit more cook, but I like my veggies on the soft size. Richard felt the beef needed a bit more seasoning, but he likes his beef highly seasoned.



Grocery Shopping Day

My grocery shopping has been so off schedule lately. We have had this that and the other things going on in our lives and I feel like I haven’t done a normal menu prep and/or shop in a while. Well I know this isn’t going to be a regular shop since I went earlier in the week, but I did menu plan.

Here’s the menu:

I have been trying to restock the freezer with meals too. I love having a full freezer at the beginning of the school year. This tends to be a busy time for me, and being able to pull things out of the freezer and just having to heat the meal is always a good thing.

ok… I’m off to the store!

food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Baking challenge

So, if you follow my blog, you know that I enjoy baking… just a little! Typically I send in the items I bake with Richard. This way, I get to enjoy baking, but my waist line doesn’t have to worry about me eating everything.

Image may contain: indoorRichard mentioned to me that he has a co-worker who has a gluten allergy. He often feels bad that he brings things in, but can’t offer the treats to this co-worker. So he asked if I could make something gluten free. This is more challenging than you’d think. Yes, I could go buy a gluten free mix, but that’s not the point. I also didn’t want to have to buy a variety of different flours and hope that the end product tastes good for those who can and cannot have gluten.

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Soooo I started looking into it. I found a recipe that I’ve made before and realized it is gluten free! So I baked Alton Brown’s Chewy Peanut butter cookies. I was getting ready to type up a post with the recipe and realized… hey I already did that!

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This time I made smaller cookies, which made a lot more, and these were not super dry this time. It is a very strange mouth feel to me. The cookie pretty much dissolves in your mouth, so you almost don’t need to chew them. They have a decent pb flavor. I think I would increase the salt a bit and if they were rolled in sugar before baking that might help too, it isn’t needed, but it would not hurt them!

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I have another cookie recipe pinned for flourless chocolate cookies. I’ll make them soon and let you know how they turn out!

family · food · through my camera lens

Fire pit fun

We are certainly enjoying our fire pit this summer! I think we’ve had a fire nearly every weekend since it was completed. On Father’s day, we gave Richard pie irons and a popcorn maker for the fire place. The last two weekends we have put them to good use!

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Last weekend, we tried out the pie irons. This was a camping tool that my family had when I was growing up. I had made chunky applesauce for pork tenderloin and used it as the filling for apple pie. These didn’t turn out 100% the way I remember them. They needed a bit more flavor to the crust, but it was good.

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Last night, we originally were going to make cinnamon rolls in the pie irons. This was going to be just using Grands Cinnamon rolls cooked in the pie irons. But… this didn’t happen. Colby asked if we could pop popcorn instead. So we did! When we added the packet of popcorn that came with the popper it didn’t seem like much popcorn so we added more of our own.  UMMM we won’t do that again! There was soooooo much popcorn and it was not only popping out of the popper, but it was jammed in the popper and I had to go get a wooden spoon to help pull it out. It did not burn other than a few kernels at the bottom.

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We tried two different flavors of seasoning. Colby wanted to try movie theater butter. Richard put jalapeno butter on his and then latter added cheddar to it too. The jalapeno was not spicy, but you could taste the pepper in the mix.  (bowls shown in pictures do not show the total amount of popcorn, they were taken in the process of removing the popcorn from the popper)

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family · food · life

July 31st

Can you believe that today is the last day of July? This has been such a fun and busy month for our family. In some ways it feels like the end of the school year was months ad months and months ago, but at the same time I can’t believe that the school year starts again soon.

The boys start school the 22nd of August, I don’t start until after Labor Day. I have yet to do any school supply shopping. We did go through the boys clothes and decided they only needs a few new t-shirts and they were good. We picked up a few on our vacation so we might be good to go on clothes. I don’t want to deal with jean/pants and/or long sleeve shirts at this time. I’d rather wait until we get closer to the cooler weather. I hate buying clothes and then they have a growth spurt and things don’t fit.

I had all these plans for things I was going to do to get ready for my school year, but I’ve not done any of them. I wanted to go through the state standards and figure out when I was going to teach which standard. I wanted to revamp all my themes and then resort my book boxes… yeah that didn’t happen either.

I did complete some professional development courses. I guess that counts for something?

I went to the store today, so I’ll share with you our menu plan for this week:

  • Wed: sous vide chicken fajitas
  • Thur: Fend for yourself- biking
  • Fri: out and Costco
  • Sat:- steak and sweet potato hash
  • Sun: BBQ chicken
  • Mon: FFY
  • Tues: Alton Brown’s Chicken parm meatballs and weeknight spaghetti (Blake is cooking)

I also bought Grands cinnamon rolls. I want to try making them in our pie irons. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the apple pies we made in the pie irons on Saturday night. We love our fire pit and are enjoying spending time hanging around around the fire on the weekends.