Thursday, February 10, 2011

Learning with the American Girls

In just a matter of weeks, Spice turned into an American Girl addict. We received a catalog out of the blue in the fall. I was going to chunk it right off the bat, but decided to hold on to it for a bit to see if she showed any interest. She did not and I thought I had tossed the catalog in the recycle bin. About a month later, I walked into the living room to find her deeply engrossed in the catalog. Apparently it had gotten buried under some books on the coffee table and she unearthed it. Since that day she hasn't talked about much of anything else. She got an AG doll from Santa (one of the My American Girl dolls, not a historical character) and Sport bought her a mini Kaya doll for Christmas as well. This semester she is taking an American Girl class through a homeschool enrichment program we participate in. The class will spend the entire semester studying Rebecca Rubin, a Jewish girl living in 1914 New York. After reading through the books, I decided to supplement her studies at home. I'm also in the process of planning a more in-depth unit on WWII and American Girl Molly. I have decided to post about the work Spice does at home and in class in case others want utilize the wonderful books in their child's studies. I will post about each book in a series as we finish it. First up will be Meet Rebecca. Check back soon for our first installment!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Taco Pie

I haven't done a recipe post in awhile. Just haven't been able to find the inspiration, but it came this week in the form of organic ground beef on sale at Publix. I stocked up and was trying to think of how to use it when I remembered this recipe. It's a family favorite, but I haven't made it in a lonnnggg time because I quit buying canned biscuits - too many weird ingredients. I recently discovered Trader Joe's has a (relatively) healthy store version though so this recipe is coming back into the rotation.

Here's what you need:
1 lb. ground beef (sometimes I substitute the fake Morning Star Farms meat and no one is the wiser)
1 packet taco seasoning
8 oz. tomato sauce
8-10 oz. can of biscuits
1 cup refried beans
1 cup cheese (I use whatever's in the fridge)
1 small onion, chopped
Brown beef and stir in tomato sauce and onion. Heat until it begins to boil. Lower temp and simmer 15 minutes or until thickened. Lightly grease 9-inch pie plate. Flatten biscuits over bottom and up sides of plate. Spread beans over dough. Top with meat and bake for about 20 minutes at 375. Sprinkle cheese over top before serving.

This recipe is being linked with Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday, All The Small Stuff's Tuesdays At The Table, and At The Well's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Head to either of those for more yummy recipes.

Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is also taking a poll to find out what brands we can't live without. In other words, if you found out a particular brand item was going to be discontinued, which ones would you stock up on. Here's my (not so short) list:

Coca Cola - No diet or zero stuff here. Can't beat the real thing.
Kroger Natural Peanut Butter - I could live with other brands if I had to, but this one is the best in my opinion.
Annie's Mac and Cheese - Spice is a mac and cheese addict. I don't feel quite so guilty when I serve her the Annie's all natural brand.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - Nothing else compares...
Tostitos Restaurant Style Salsa - Nice and refreshing. The closest to actual restaurant salsa I've found in a jar.
Tostitos Baked Scoops - The perfect complement to the above mentioned salsa. These are the ONLY baked chips I like and they make my constant craving for chips and salsa a little less guilt inducing.
Crayola Crayons - The rest are just colored blobs of wax.
Oral B or Johnson & Johnson dental floss - All the other brands fall apart before the job is done.
Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner - The only one that actually works on the tub.

And No. 1 on the list...

Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning - My luxury item if I'm ever on Survivor. This stuff could even make grass taste good.

Head over to Jen's blog to see what brands other reader's are loyal to and feel free to leave a comment here telling me your favorites.