I recently received a copy of The Perfect Portion Cookbook to review. The Perfect Portion Cookbook includes 150 healthy, easy-to-prepare recipes with a 100-calorie portion system for counting calories and managing portion sizes. The website also offers helpful tips and videos.
As a new mom, I’m not into the “must immediately get pre-baby body back” attitude, but I really appreciate the simple, healthy takes on comfort food in this cookbook. It’s so refreshing to see mostly real, unprocessed food versus something like “three-ingredient protein pancakes” or a healthified version of rich food that uses non-fat, sugar-free “diet” ingredients. The familiar comfort food nature of the recipes offers a good base for making small tweaks or customization. The recipes don’t involve a ton of prep work or active cooking time either, which is great for getting back into cooking as a new mom. I made four of the recipes: blackened cod, 100 calorie biscuits, tuna melts, and cheese crackers.
I’ve been finding great cod at Market Basket lately, so I was excited to try this out. My usual go-to cod recipes involve mayonnaise + sriracha + panko bread crumbs or butter + panko bread crumbs, so the blackening spice in this recipe was a much lighter alternative. On the first attempt at this, I served it with some pasta on the side and topped it with a squeeze of lemon and some chives. Overall, the flavor was good (though my husband found it a bit spicy). I wish I’d adjusted the spice amounts more better because the filets were pretty large. The second time I made it, I added some paprika and decreased the cayenne. I also tried to get a better sear on the fish and served it alongside jasmine rice with kale, garlic, and shallots. I will definitely keep this in my repertoire.
100 Calorie Biscuits
I’ve had yogurt biscuits on my to-make list for a while, so I was glad that The Perfect Portion Cookbook included them. I used a mix of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour and Fage 0% yogurt, and served them with butter and strawberry jam. They didn’t turn out as well as the biscuits I have made with grated frozen butter and buttermilk lately, but I’ll give them at least another try to see if I can improve my dough-making or biscuit shaping or tweak the baking time.
I really liked these. I used Cabot 3 year aged cheddar, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, whole grain bread, and Bumble Bee light tuna in olive oil. I subbed celery for tomato. The bread I bought was small, so there ended up being enough to make one more tuna melt each the next day. If only I had a toaster oven at work…I’d be making these every day!
I’ve been intrigued by Smitten Kitchen’s goldfish recipe, so I used a goldfish cutter on The Perfect Portion Cookbook’s recipe. I used a screwdriver for the eyes and a 1/4 tsp spoon for the smiles. I also added some Old Bay seasoning to the crackers. I took them to school with me and gave some to my students. Some said they were too salty (too much Old Bay?) but one commented that they tasted “just like pizza goldfish.”
Looking forward to making more recipes from this cookbook!
When getting ready to start maternity leave, I created a Google Calendar called “Parker” and promptly filled it with every single potential support group or maternity leave activity that I heard about from friends, my pediatrician, and Mt. Auburn Hospital. For example, I had bookmarked this post (from exactly three years ago!) and thought that I needed to attend multiple activities every single day of the week. Though Parker behaved better and I felt a lot happier on outings, I soon realized that having a few consistent activities and room for flexibility worked the best for us.
Class & Free Drop-In Groups
Having spent most of my teaching life in very structured time blocks, I longed for the familiar comfort of school when faced with the prospect of unstructured maternity leave. I signed up for the JCC New Arrivals (0-3 Months) and Getting to Know You (3-6 Months) classes at Ready, Set, Kids! in Arlington thinking that parenting classes would help me figure out how to be a mom. Early on, we did check-ins and had a group discussion/lesson about pertinent developmental topics such as sleep, breastfeeding, or preparing for the return to work. As the babies got older, we got to do more activities with them (such as parachute play or the ball pit). I appreciated getting to learn in a small group setting from an experienced teacher and in the company of mothers who were facing similar challenges. Each week, our teacher Liz did an amazing job of focusing each week’s discussions so that we could make progress without getting overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of parenting information that’s out there. I’m sure a lot of the information could have been found via Google, but the filtering definitely helped me focus on Parker’s development. Similarly, the strong personal connections in our small group were worth so much more than the class tuition. Even though I’d come into the class not even thinking about creating a support network, I left with a lot of wonderful mom friends. We spent many a fall afternoon relaxing at Kickstand Cafe or Common Ground, and now we’ll meet up for small “reunions” when there’s a holiday such as Presidents Day.
I don’t have pictures of the Medford group because phones aren’t allowed…this is Parker at a pre-group lunch at Colleen’s.
Two of the women in my JCC classes recommended the Medford New Parents Group as well. This free group meets at Medford High School on Tuesdays, and it’s for parents of children up to 1 year old. Each week, members will check in with their highs and lows for the week and then have an open discussion (one conversation for the entire group). A few folks often meet up at Colleen’s for lunch and some social time before group. Though this group’s facilitator is just as excellent as the JCC one, it has a completely different feel than the JCC classes. It’s drop-in, so it’s a lot bigger with less consistent attendance. There are dads as well as moms (no dads allowed at the JCC classes), second-time parents, and working parents. The discussion topics don’t follow a developmental timeline–for instance, they often arise out of circumstances such as wanting advice for holiday travel. I really enjoyed learning from parents with older babies in this group. Even though they weren’t struggling with the same challenges I was, they often had great advice from having gone through those experiences already. Another bonus: seeing their babies sitting up, crawling, and walking gave me stuff to look forward to for Parker. I also really appreciated that Aine, the facilitator, has a way of making everyone feel welcome and like they can move forward from even the most frustrating of circumstances.
The Library: Cambridge Public Library Lapsit
The library was always one of my favorite spots as a child, so I’d always planned to take Parker there for storytime and crafts. A few friends recommended the baby lapsit (with the caveat that the competition for tickets got so fierce that you’d have to arrive an hour beforehand). At first I thought that was crazy, and didn’t even attempt to go until Parker was 9 weeks old. I took a friend’s advice to go at 9:00 a.m. to pick up a ticket for the 10:00 a.m. lapsit and then go across the street to Darwin’s for a coffee. Parking in the library garage is cheap and easy to find on Monday mornings, which helps with early arrival. When the weather was nice, I’d stroll Parker around the neighborhood and check out the corgis playing in the nearby dog park. Sometimes I’d pick up books for myself in the new fiction section, read board books to Parker in the children’s room. I liked that the children’s room was so welcoming–it’s super clean, has ample bathrooms and changing tables, and lots of couches to sit on and nurse. It’s always hopping with parents, caregivers, and kids.
The lapsit itself lasts about 20 minutes. Julie the librarian (and her model baby Jake, a Curious George doll) leads the group in singalongs and finishes with reading a board book. The “good morning” song always starts, followed by introductions of the babies. The songs are consistent from week to week (to help the babies with language development). The lineup usually includes Pattycake, The Wheels on the Bus, Tony Chestnut, Kissing Frogs, Open Shut Them, Dump Truck, The Noble Duke of York, Trot Trot to Boston, Let’s Go Riding on the Elevator, Jumping Frogs, and Twinkle Twinkle. Even when Parker was going through fussy stages, he was always enraptured by all of the singing and the other babies. I grew to love it as a way to kick off the week.
Other Fun Stuff
We also liked:
– hanging out in coffee shops or restaurants (especially Diesel, Dwelltime–now Barismo, and Bagelsaurus)
– walking on the Minuteman Trail, Somerville Community Path, Alewife Greenway, Fresh Pond, and the Fells
– Capitol Theatre Baby Matinee: only went twice, and realized that this is best for really young babies…at six months, Parker would want to be entertained constantly rather than just sleeping through the movie.
– O2 Mommy Baby Yoga: only went once, and now I wish I’d been able to go once he hit six months because he doesn’t need to be held as much and would probably be happy exploring toys on the mat.
Stuff I Wish I’d Tried
I know it’s impossible to do everything, but I do wish I’d tried the following:
– Little Fox Library Singalong
– Jeff Jam Singalong
– Museum of Science (esp. because I could go for free as a K-12 teacher)
– Trustees of Reservations hikes
– Hike It Baby
My husband and I don’t typically get into lavish Valentine’s Day gifts (for example, watching an iTunes-rented movie over takeout sushi from our favorite places is probably going to be the extent of it this year), but I like to make crafty Valentine’s Day projects for girlfriends and for school fundraisers. For example, I made hot cocoa mixes for a prom fundraiser sale a few years ago. I like to celebrate these occasions without breaking the bank, and was inspired to share my ideas after learning about Personal Capital. If you haven’t heard of them, you should look into their free tools to help with your finances.
This year, my craft of choice was homemade mug candles, which I originally did for a blogger GALentine exchange by Fitness and Feta, then extended for my teacher girl friends as a half Galentine’s Day / half “it’s February break!” gift.
Photo via Simply Gourmet in Southie
Mugs for my teacher friends. Parker’s on the gift tags as Cupid Me 🙂
Materials (mostly from Michael’s, where teachers get a discount. I linked to similar items below–none are affiliate links)
Mugs – we got some cute ones in the dollar section
Soy wax flakes (similar)
Vanilla candle oil (similar)
Small pot from Goodwill for melting wax, though now I realize there are pouring pots for this
Old dish towels to do pouring on
My sister came over to hang out with me and Parker while we got to crafting. She’s made these candles before, so she had some tips and tricks. We set up the wicks in the mugs and used two clothespins to hold each wick in place. We melted soy wax flakes in the pot over low heat, then mixed in a few drops of the vanilla oil per pot. The pot held enough for 2-3 candles based on the mugs that I’d bought. We poured the wax into the mugs and repeated the process until all eight mugs were filled. After letting the wax cool overnight (recommended time is 12 hours), I cut the extra wicks off and they were ready for gifting.
Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary sample of Atlas Coffee in exchange for my thoughts on the product. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links in this post.
I’ve written about coffee math before and recently got inspired again after learning about Atlas Coffee Club. After my beginning of semester poll on “what would help you do better in math?” some of the students in my math enrichment class said “real-world projects!” I love doing those anyway, so I got to thinking about topics that are relevant to them. My first period 9th grade class doesn’t seem to have the same coffee addiction as my past 11th and 12th grade classes, but that may change for them in the future. In past years, my early morning 11th or 12th grade classes often looked like a Starbucks (minus the hipster clothing and MacBooks) because of the sheer number of Frappuccinos, iced passion teas, and coffees. The teachers, however, still come in with various types of coffee (homemade in a travel mug, Dunkin iced, Starbucks, or local cafe) and often go out for a mid-day coffee break or use the Keurig machine in the teachers’ lounge.
Thus is born my new project idea: Have students do “market research” and create a “make coffee at home” plan for teachers who spend way too much on buying coffee out. Atlas Coffee Club offers a wide variety of coffees from around the world along with subscription options that suit different frequencies of coffee drinking.
1) Interview a teacher about their favorite type of coffee and their coffee habits. For example, if they like Ethiopian reserve coffees at Starbucks, they might like the Ethiopian Sidamo. For coffee habits, find how often they drink it, how much it costs per day, and their habits (e.g., are they always rushing in the morning? do they have to make coffee for a husband/wife/signficant other? do they have patience for using a Chemex? do they even know what a Chemex is?).
2) Find a coffee that matches their flavor preferences and coffee-making style (clearly explained by the Atlas coffee brewing guide)
3) Price out how much related equipment will cost if the teacher does not already own it (travel mug for taking to school, French press, Chemex).
4) Price out their subscription (including if they use the 5% lifetime discount).
5) Figure out when the teacher will break even given the cost of the equipment and subscription versus the daily purchase.
6) IB bonus: research the coffee industry in the country of origin of the chosen coffee.
7) Extension: find a k-cup brand and price out how much it would cost for the teacher to bring those to school to brew in the teachers’ lounge machine. Assess the environmental impact and time savings of this option.
I’m interested to see how this plays out with the kiddos. I like that this problem is open-ended and that they’ll have to apply the skill of “reaching out to an adult and actually speaking to them” as well as using linear equations and systems of equations in a context that’s not just a math problem that comes out to nice integer answers.
It feels good to be back at school! Here’s my 9th grade math lesson from day 2 (the first day of Coordinate Geometry), for the two 47-minute sections.
Day 1: 1-a Distance Formula
1) Name Graphs: Check off completion. [This assignment was to have students write their names on graph paper using only straight lines that begin and end at coordinate points on a grid.] Have 3 students draw a letter of their names on the board with points labeled.
2) Practice Quiet Coyote [my routine for getting attention–his ears are open but his mouth is shut]
3) Mini-Lesson: Distance Formula [taught using the 3 student examples]
– Look at how to solve for vertical and horizontal line distances.
– Look at diagonal distances to introduce the distance formula. Elicit the right triangle shape and Pythagorean Theorem.
4) Practice using Kuta worksheet (start with lines drawn on a grid, then ordered pairs). Introduce distance formula.
5) Formative Assessment: Plickers Exit Ticket (1 multiple problem with two ordered pairs) via Kuta multiple choice. Students turn their sheets and cards to the inbox.
6) HW: Haese & Harris Exercise 5A1 (answer key included)
7) Support for Math Enrichment: Extra WS practice. Give feedback on ET.
Section 1: Students were slow to take out paper for notes and turn in HW. We need to make this process more automatic. I noticed that many needed prompting to label the notes with the skill and the date, or even to use their binders (which seem to have grown into a pile in the back of my room over the semester I was out on maternity leave). Some students do have some excellent, organized notes from the past semester, so I might start having students volunteer to share their notes for my “absent work” binder to help absent kids catch up. I forgot to practice Quiet Coyote explicitly but the quieting was better today. For the practice, students really had enough time for the first four problems (mostly because they got stuck with simplifying radicals–the answer key had listed the square root of 8 as 2 square root of 2). I had to write more directions for the close of class on the board to clarify what I wanted for the exit ticket (for example, students didn’t realize they had to turn in their work as well as the Plickers cards). I need to label the Plickers cards with the student names for both sections and make sure they go into a separate bin.
Section 2: This lesson went smoother overall because of anticipating cueing of the HW checking process (in which I handed Plickers cards out to save time later), prepping them to segway from a picture to two ordered pairs, and completing the exit ticket. More students completed the ordered pairs questions, but we will still review. A principal intern came in to observe my class, and it was good to hear this feedback: “Thank you for allowing me to come observe your class today and welcome back!! I liked that you put the answers on the back of the sheet so that they could self check, it fostered more discussion than I would have thought. The students were so engaged. It was interesting to listen to a couple of conversations where the student answer didn’t match the back and so the next step was to ask a partner about what they had come to and why. Plus those Plicker cards were awesome – such a great way to use technology without the lag time. I had never seen that before but I will be sure to remember it for a high tech/low complication formative assessment measure.”
Though the Pats won’t be playing in Super Bowl 50 and we’ll have to be home by 6:00 p.m. for baby’s bedtime, I’m still excited for Super Bowl food! I’m participating in a Super Bowl Recipe Exchange with fellow food bloggers, who’ve created the following delicious recipes:
- Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ from Eat.Live.Blog
- White Bean & Chorizo Stew from LivinLemon
- Buffalo Chicken Empanadas from yours truly
- DIY Snack Stadium from Wife in Progress
- Homemade Pimento Cheese Stuffed Sliders from Aimee Broussard
- Taco Dip from Anchors and Bows
- Corn “Tamale” with Black Beans and more from Good Cook Doris
Not only am I sharing with you these great recipes, but I am also excited to offer an opportunity to win a $100 gift card courtesy of Wayfair! You could choose from one of their MANY slow cookers, or any one of a million other things that will make your Super Bowl Party the biggest winner of the night!
The giveaway is open until the winner of the Super Bowl is crowned.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’ve been looking forward to (and sometimes dreading) my return to teaching after maternity leave. It’s so exciting to get that part of my identity back, but it feels like getting a new job after I’ve been spending so much time learning how to be a mom. Becoming a mom has strengthened and subtly changed my relationship with my own mom. For instance, she recently shared a story about how she left the Philippines to start work at the World Bank. The story was for her baby apo (how you say grandson in Tagalog), but it meant a lot to me too.
She sent these two pictures from January 1971, when she flew to the U.S. with two other women also starting jobs at the World Bank from a group of eight who were recruited from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). She had no idea at all where I was going except the knowledge that she was going to work at the World Bank. Since she was traveling with two friends she just went with the flow. The picture on the left is from her airport sendoff with family (she’s in the fabulous ’70s yellow/orange/green outfit). The other picture was from a stopover in Hong Kong, which was followed by San Francisco, L.A., and then Disneyland. In L.A., she marveled at the amazing things she had never seen before. She had a very enjoyable time because all expenses were paid by the Bank (she had left home with only about $100 in pocket money). On January 31, she and her friends flew to Dulles airport and were met by a World Bank car and driver. They stayed at the YMCA on 16th Street for about four days until they found an apartment where two other ADB girls lived (at 2430 Pennsylvania Ave NW).
Her first day of work was February 1 (I find that symbolic because of today’s date). She recalled being very sleepy at 5 p.m. during orientation and pinching her arm to keep herself awake. She didn’t know what fate awaited her in D.C…only that a certain Florido Buenafe lived on the same apartment floor as her and her roommate Cora. And the rest was history (helped along by my dad trying to woo her by bringing her a watermelon and sabotaging any would-be suitors by telling them that she moved away 🙂
You’re planning a lesson and you try to come up with super good question to ask to get kids to think about something. What is that question? Why did you phrase it the way you did? Why do you think it will prompt discussion/thinking?
I’m returning to work at my International Baccalaureate school on Monday after seven months of maternity leave, and teaching Middle Years Programme (MYP) Math 9 for the first time. I’d written a few MYP-style units before in spite of teaching only Diploma Programme (DP) classes. I’m trying to be more thoughtful and intentional about unit planning now to create more effective assessments that tie into the MYP global contexts, key concepts, and approaches to learning. I felt that my previous MYP units tried to fit those IB components versus having the assessments arise organically from them. I also didn’t want to plan in the disorganized way that I’d done before–thinking by day or by week rather than backwards from assessments. That leads to more daily work in spite of being less work up front. I also didn’t want to develop a creative project as a summative assessment rather than weaving it into formative assessments. I’ve often done end-of-term projects in the past, but this stressed students and me out because the projects were stand-alone and not designed before the unit started.
I listed out the skills for the first unit I will teach (Coordinate Geometry) and brainstormed project ideas that would assess those skills.
1-a Distance Between Two Points
1-d Using Coordinate Geometry
1-e Equations of Straight Lines
1-f Distance from a Point to a Line (though after the fact I realized that systems of equations are an embedded skill; not sure how my students are with this)
I thought about trying a water park project like this, but realized that the types of skills I wanted to assess didn’t fit quite right with the way my students would likely design their water parks, so I’d end up making up some artificial constraints that limited their creativity. I was intrigued by the idea of placing benches at the midpoints of walking paths or by designing slides with constraints on the slope, so I tried to explore urban planning projects. Urban planning seemed so perfect for the MYP global context of globalization and sustainability, in which students “explore the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the relationship between local and global processes; how local experiences mediate the global; the opportunities and tensions provided by world-interconnectedness; the impact of decision-making on humankind and the environment.” However, I couldn’t come up with an urban planning project whose scope would be appropriate for this particular 9th grade unit.
I kept coming back to the idea of having students draw pictures with lines of given slopes. I first experienced this in 7th grade (the 1992-1993 school year, eek) when my Algebra 1 teacher gave us an art project in which we had to create a picture using a given number of linear equations (our choice on the equations). I still remember my friend Gwen’s for its clever name. She made a kaleidoscope pattern named “Kaleidoslope.” Mine was “Starry Night on the Slopes”–my take on Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. There are lots of slope picture projects and cool ideas out there (like this from Math Equals Love).
After I impulse-bought this magazine at Whole Foods, I began to explore the idea of artistic expression more.
I started to focus on the global context of personal and cultural expression, in which students “explore the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic” the key concept of form (the “shape and underlying structure of an entity or piece of work, including its organization, essential nature and external appearance. Form in MYP mathematics refers to the understanding that the underlying structure and shape of an entity is distinguished by its properties. Form provides opportunities for students to appreciate the aesthetic nature of the constructs used in a discipline.”), and the approach to learning of communication.
My unit inquiry question will be: How does math influence personal artistic expression? I’ll weave in drawing activities throughout the unit and tie in the current trend of adult coloring books (like this, this, and this). For the final assessment, I’ll have them design their own quilt panel to represent themselves for a hypothetical time capsule that would get buried to commemorate their class (perhaps in a new building) and explore the mathematical properties of the quilt design. Maybe I’ll even get to tie in the history of quilts in the Underground Railroad. I’m psyched about trying these lesson and assessment ideas with my students and to see what they will come up with!
One of the best things about my husband is that he loves creating curriculum ideas with me. He helped me develop SAM animation math stories years ago, and recently had his high school interns make some of their own.
I enjoy putting a twist on Filipino recipes such as my mom’s empanadas and pancit. Now that I’m a new mom, I’ve started to streamline my cooking by minimizing chopping and using my slow cooker more. Pulled chicken has become quite a staple in our household. For the Super Bowl, I’ve always loved eating buffalo wings or buffalo dip, so my Filipino mom adaptation will be…slow cooker buffalo chicken empanadas! This makes ~20 depending on how big you roll them.
Dough (2 batches of my mom’s recipe)
6 cups all-purpose flour
0.5 cup sugar
1.5 cups water
1 cup butter (cut into small cubes)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup buffalo sauce, divided into two 1/2 cup portions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Penzeys roasted garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups blue cheese crumbles
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 beaten egg (for egg wash)
Blue cheese dressing and more buffalo sauce for dipping
These pre-chopped onions from Whole Foods worked great, and I might try the mirepoix in filling next time I make it!
1. Put buffalo chicken ingredients (one of the half cups of sauce) into slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low. Shred with forks. Add the other 1/2 cup of sauce. I realized that this makes a lot of extra filling–it turns out great in lettuce wraps, tacos, salads, and egg scrambles though!
2. Mix dough ingredients in food processor (I do two batches to make sure it fits and mixes evenly) and form into a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes.
3. Roll out dough circles about 6 inches in diameter (from small handfuls of dough).
4. Place 1 or 2 heaping tablespoons of chicken onto the rolled-out dough. Top with blue cheese, scallions, and carrots.
5. Fold the dough circle over to start forming the empanada. Press fork along the curved edge to create a border.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes on pans lined with parchment paper. After 15 minutes, brush empanadas with beaten egg for coloring, then put them back in the oven to finish baking.