Tuesday, March 31

Preschooling at Home: Sensory Play with Rice

We've recently entered into a new phase in our house of three boys. It's the "I wanna go to schoooool!" Phase. But before I can agree to send my middle monkey off, I've told him we have to learn his colors, shapes, numbers, and letters before he can go. That should hold him off for awhile, right?

To make the learning more fun at home, I put together a few sensory play boxes for him to play and learn at the same time. We've been making games of it, and he's really picking it up quickly!

For this box, I used all items I purchased at my local dollar store:
- One bag of rice
- Some little kitchen cups in different shapes
- A pre-made shapes banner from the office supply aisle

For the first game, I laid one of the banners on the floor and had G find objects from around the house that matched the shapes on the banner. He had a great time rifling through his toys, the junk drawer, and even in his big brother's toy box, for matching items.

After that, I pulled out the big towel and brought the rice box out for some play. G really enjoyed scooping the rice into the shapes cups and then putting the rice on the matching banner. While he was doing this, I would quiz him to reinforce his memorization by asking him to scoop rice into a certain shape. When he got it correct, we made a big deal out of it with dancing and singing. He really had a great time! 

Monday, August 5

Creamy Ranch Chicken & Co.

There are some nights when I have 4 chicken breasts thawed, and I find myself standing with a blank stare in front of the spice cabinet thinking, "How exactly will
I trick my family into thinking this baked chicken will be something new and better tonight?"

Well, tonight, I managed to do it, and with ingredients I already had on hand - side dishes and all. Score!

This easy-peasy baked chicken was tender and gravy-licious, and it cooked up rather quickly. Enjoy, y'all!

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 packet Ranch seasoning, dry 
- 3 tablespoons water or chicken broth 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9x13 glass pan with nonstick spray of choice. Whisk cream of chicken soup, dry Ranch seasoning, and water together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Slice chicken breasts into 1-inch thick strips. Combine chicken strips with your cream of ranch mixture, and mix well. Use tongs or other utensil to make sure every chicken strip is well coated. Remove chicken strips one-by-one and lay in a single layer in the 9x13 pan. Pour remaining sauce mixture evenly over the top of your strips. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes, until the chicken strip juices run clear and the tops of your strips begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to stand 5-7 minutes before serving. 

I also made some classic buttered noodles and a summer favorite of mine, sautéed squash 'n' greens.

For the buttered noodles, just bring 24-28 ozs. of chicken broth and 2 tblsp. Of butter to a rolling boil. Add 4 cups of wide egg noodles, and boil for 7-8 minutes. I added a palm-full of dried parsley the last 2-3 minutes, just to add a little flavor and color. 

The Squash 'n' Greens were just as simple: 
Heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat, and melt 4 tblsp. of butter in it. Add 1 medium summer squash (quartered and sliced), 1 diced Vidalia onion, and salt, pepper, and powdered garlic to taste. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the squash softens, then add one thawed and drained box of chopped spinach. Mix until heated through. Add another tablespoon of butter, if needed, while heating the spinach through. 

The squash 'n' greens recipe also works great with zucchini added to or substituted for the yellow squash. 

I sure hope y'all enjoy!