Monday, December 29, 2014

Write and Don't Give Up

"Write and keep writing. Lots of people want to be an author; many people talk about it. The serious ones write and don't give up."

bookplate art by Gladys Munoz


*via Goodreads

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Make this your Most Important Christmas

        

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

He is not in the manger. 
He is not on the cross. 
He is not in the tomb.
He is coming soon for His own.

Is He your personal Savior?

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Writing With Invisible Ink

 . . . I don’t necessarily write every day. But I am almost always thinking of my stories, and I count thinking as "writing with invisible ink.”

Courtesy Miquel Bohigas Costabella


Monday, December 15, 2014

Remember Your Audience

". . . I think you get so caught up in chasing this dream in the beginning, that you lose sight of who you’re truly writing for. The children must come first."

Bookplate art by Carl S. Junge


*via Vivian Kirkfield on Picture Books Help Kids Soar

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fear Limits Creativity

"We try to stuff fear deep down and keep it hidden, but it’s always clawing its way to the surface. . . . Live with the fear. Embrace it. But also don’t let it stop you. Power through. Let the fear motivate you, not kill your mojo. Because I guarantee someone, somewhere is going to HATE your work. But are you going to let that one person stop you?"

Bookplate by Hiroshi Kawabe
courtesy Art-exlibris


Monday, December 1, 2014

A Killer Concept

"Good writing isn't enough. You need a killer concept.
A well-written story with a mediocre concept will get a rejection form every time. But a fresh, unique concept that needs better execution will get a revision request. And a killer concept that's written well? That's your ticket to a contract."
-Tara Lazar*


Bookplate art by Louis Rhead 
courtesy Scrap Old Book Illustrations


*via Inkygirl.com

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eat Write Menu Days 26-30

Pilgrim Cat, by Carol Peacock and Doris Ettlinger

2014 Eat Write Writers' Menu

Below you'll find the meals for the last week of November. You can still carve out extra time for writing amid your pre-Thanksgiving frenzy. You're in the home stretch. Don't give up!

A New Look At Thanksgiving
If this is your first visit, you'll find tips and instructions on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo where you'll also find kitchen staples to complete the meal plan.
Just a reminder that many recipes can be found in their original states on my Writers' Menu Pinterest Board.

Assuming you're following the full menu, I've made a printable version of the shopping list and the information below, in case you don't want to keep referring back to this post.
Don't forget, the numbers in brackets following the grocery item tell you which day the ingredient will be needed. Use the numbers if you've deviated from the Writers' Menu selections.

Thanksgiving is Here!, by Diane Goode

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or constructive comments.
I'm thankful for this great community of writers. Have a fabulous holiday!

This is the Turkey





Writers' Recipes November 26-30


[26] Garlic Shrimp & Pasta, courtesy Food Network
Ingredients:
20 to 25 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 1-1/4 pounds
2 tsp olive oil
4 Tbl unsalted butter, divided
1 Tbl minced garlic
1/2 cup white cooking wine or broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb cooked pasta

Directions:
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over high heat. 
  • Spread shrimp in single layer in heated pan. 
  • Cook 2 minutes. Flip.  
  • Add garlic to the pan and cook about 30 seconds. 
  • Add wine, lemon juice, lemon zest and remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter. Cook 1-1/2 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Add pasta. Toss to combine. 
Complete the meal:
Serve with broccoli and garlic bread.



[27] Happy Thanksgiving!
Need more creative ideas? You can find 102 interesting Thanksgiving side dishes on Southern Living.




[28] French Bread Pizza, courtesy Finding Joy In My Kitchen
Ingredients:
2 loaves French Bread
12 oz tomato paste
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups mozzarella cheese
toppings

Directions:
  • Slice loaves into thirds lengthwise, and then in half to create thick slices.
  • Top each with tomato paste, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  • Top as desired. Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Broil 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Complete the meal:
Add a side of applesauce.

Note: You may need to start tomorrow's dinner in the slow cooker, depending on your amount of leftovers.




 [29] Turkey and Sweet Potato Leftover Casserole, courtesy Kalyn's Kitchen

Note:  If using raw ground turkey, follow the recipe link above. 
If using cooked sweet potatoes, after cooking onion, combine all ingredients on stovetop. Heat to boiling; simmer 20 minutes. Keep warm in slow cooker, if desired.

Ingredients:
leftover turkey
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces 
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl Chili Garlic Sauce
2 tsp minced ginger 
2 tsp minced garlic
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 cup sliced green onions

Directions:
  • Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray. 
  • Saute onions in olive oil until soft, about 4-5 minutes. 
  • Add onions and sweet potatoes to slow cooker. 
  • Mix together soy sauce, chicken stock, sugar, brown sugar, Chili Garlic Sauce, minced ginger, and minced garlic. Pour into slow cooker. 
  •  Cook on high 2 1/2 hours. 
  • When the sweet potatoes are starting to fall apart, add the turkey, coconut milk, and green onion.
  • Turn heat to low, and cook 30 minutes more.
Complete the meal:
Serve with rice, corn, and green beans, or leftover vegetables from Thanksgiving dinner.

Note: Thaw steaks in refrigerator overnight.




[30] Steak Dinner, courtesy Stockpiling Moms
Ingredients:
2-3 Ribeye Steaks
1 bottle of Steak Sauce
Steak Seasoning
8-10 red potatoes
4-6 ears of corn
butter
Sea salt
Pepper

Directions:
  • Place steaks into bottom of slow cooker.
  • Heavily sprinkle steak seasoning of your choice.
  • Pour approximately ¾ cup steak sauce over steaks.
  • Top steaks with a sheet of  aluminum foil.
  • Spritz the top with cooking spray.
  • Place a layer of red potatoes on the foil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Add another layer of foil and cover the potatoes tightly to form a seal, allowing potatoes to steam.
  • Butter corn. Add salt and pepper. Roll tightly in aluminum foil.
  • Place on top of  potatoes in foil.
  • Cover and cook 6-7 hours on low.
Complete the meal:
Serve with a side of peas or leftover vegetables from Thanksgiving dinner.

The Memory Cupboard
Congratulations! You've arrived!

I hope these simple family favorites have left you plenty of time to prepare for Thanksgiving. Holidays are made for celebrating, not stressing out! Thanks for sticking with it.

May the time with family and friends inspire many new picture book seeds.

Friday, November 21, 2014

PPBF: The First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Book

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

A Thanksgiving counting story
by Laura Krauss Melmed and Mark Buehner
This First Thanksgiving Day
Written by Laura Krauss Melmed
Illustrated by Mark Buehner
HarperCollins, 2001
ages 4-6

Opening:
1 Dressed in linen,
sitting in a tree,
dreaming of the tall, strong ship
on which he crossed the sea.

2 Dressed in deerskin,
gathering nuts below,
giggling as they tiptoe by,
too shy to say hello.



Themes:
Holiday, Counting, Historical

Synopsis:
This simple Thanksgiving counting book alternates between Pilgrim preparations and those of the Wampanoag. From one to twelve, the gentle rhymes lead the reader from gathering  food to feasting in this colorful picture book for the very young.


What I Love:
This may not be Laura's best book of verse, but  it is still charming and full of historical details. It's a perfect book to count down to the Thanksgiving holiday, to halt the headlong rush into Christmas for a moment of genuine gratitude.

Mark's illustrations are playful, and he packs them full of the details little readers will want to study. He includes animals to count, hidden pictures, and an elusive turkey on every page. Can you spot the cat hidden on the cover pictured above?


Bonus:
1. The book's hidden pictures and historical elements beg to be discussed.
2. Learn the history of the Wampanoag nations.
3.  Use a fun PDF from the USGS on animal tracks and casting them in plaster (like number 6 in the book!)
4. Cook up a clam stew (like number 8) from Taste of Home.
5. Weave your own upcycled paper basket (like number 10 in the book!) from Instructibles.
6. For a change of pace, try this cranberry pistachio biscotti recipe from All Recipes.
7. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Susanna




Did you find the hidden cat?
Hint: It's upside down!
Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!




Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 21, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eating Write Recipes Days 18-25

Pre-Thanksgiving Writers' Recipes

Below you'll find the meals for the coming week. Between your writing goals and your holiday preparations, I'm sure you are pressed for time. The upcoming meals are pretty basic. If you've been following along,  much of the work should already be done. Here's hoping you stay productive this week (and stay well-fed)!


Correction: I forgot to add a meat to the shopping list for Day 21's stir fry. Pick up 1.5 lbs of chicken or pork, or throw in leftover Teriyaki chicken from Day 19. I am SO sorry. The list is corrected now, if you haven't shopped yet. Thanks for your flexibility.

If this is your first visit, you'll find tips and instructions on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo
All the ingredients needed for this list can be found on yesterday's post.
You should have frozen pot roast for Day 18, teriyaki chicken for Day 19, and chili for Day 25.
Just a reminder that many recipes can be found in their original states on my Writers' Menu Pinterest Board.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or constructive comments.
Note: The numbers in [brackets] correspond to the dates on the meal planning calendar.
I've made a printable version of the information below, in case you don't want to keep referring back to this post.
Thanks for reading!


Writers' Recipes November 18-25


[18] Pot Roast, courtesy EatingWellSpendingLess
Ingredients:
Thawed pot roast
6-8 red potatoes, diced
6 raw carrots, diced
1 onion, chopped

Directions:
  • Place in slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Add chopped carrots, red potatoes, and onion to the crock pot after 2 hours.
Complete the meal:
Serve with (or over) mashed potatoes, with a side of fruit.

Note: Thaw the Teriyaki Chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Or find the recipe here and marinate in refrigerator overnight.



[19] Teriyaki Chicken, courtesy KojoDesigns
Ingredients:
Thawed chicken in marinade
Sweet potatoes

Directions:
  • Prick skins of washed sweet potatoes with fork.
  • Wrap sweet potatoes in foil.
  • Add to 350 degree F oven, (50-60 minutes)
  • Place chicken and marinade in greased baking pan. 
  • Cover. Bake at 350 degrees F 20 - 30 minutes. Uncover. Bake 20 - 30 minutes longer until juices run clear.
Complete the meal:
Serve over rice with a side of peas. Unwrap sweet potatoes. Slip from skins and serve with cinnamon / sugar or brown sugar and butter.

Note: Don't forget to start the slow cooker first thing tomorrow morning.



[20] Chicken Fingers
Ingredients:
Frozen chicken fingers
dipping sauce or ketchup

Directions:
  • Cook chicken according to package directions.
  • Cut celery, carrots, green pepper, and additional veggies into sticks.

Complete the meal: 
Serve veggies with dip and sections of orange for a finger food festival!

Note: Leftover vegetables will be used in tomorrow's stir fry. Cut additional vegetables into uniform pieces, if desired. Refrigerate.



[21] Stir fry
Ingredients:
1.5 lbs chicken or pork
leftover raw vegetables, plus additional green pepper, onion, carrot
any canned stir fry vegetable, like baby corn or bamboo shoots
Bottled stir fry sauce.

Directions:
  • Chunk chicken or pork. Cut veggies into uniform pieces.
  •  Fry meat in small amount of oil. Remove from pan.
  • Line up vegetables according to cooking time. 
  • One at a time, add veggies to skillet. Cook and Stir after each addition. 
  • Stir in bottled sauce. Return meat to pan. Heat through.
Complete the meal: 
Serve over rice with chopsticks!

Note: Thaw hot dogs in refrigerator overnight.



[22] Nacho Cheese Dogs, courtesy Pillsbury
Ingredients:
2  12 oz cans Pillsbury Grands Big & Flaky refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (16 rolls)
8 cheese slices 
8 hot dogs
2 Tbl milk
4 cups cheddar tortilla chips, crushed  (about 64 chips)
dipping sauces, if desired

Directions:
  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.
  • Separate each dough into 4 rectangles. 
  • To make each sandwich, place 1 slice of cheese lengthwise down center of dough rectangle; place hot dog lengthwise over cheese. Fold short sides of dough up over hot dog. Fold one long side of rectangle up over hot dog, rolling dough to form tube with cheese and hot dog inside.
  • Using pastry brush, brush milk over each wrapped hot dog. Roll each in crushed chips; place seam side down on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with dipping sauces.
Complete the meal:
Serve with macaroni and cheese, apple slices, and pickles for a kid-friendly favorite.

Note: Check the fridge! There should be enough leftovers for a full meal tomorrow.



[23] Leftover night
Ingredients:
leftover odds and ends
Ramen noodles

Directions:
  • Supplement leftover night with Ramen noodles, or add random meat and veggies to cooked noodle soup for a change of pace.
Note: Thaw bacon in refrigerator overnight.

[24] Pancake Breakfast
Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1.5 cups whole milk
6 Tbl oil
3 cups flour
3 Tbl sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
  • Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, beat eggs.
  • Beat in buttermilk, milk, and oil. 
  • Add dry ingredients and beat until combined.
  • Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a griddle or pan. 
  • Ladle approximately 1/2 cup of batter into griddle.
  • Flip when pancake fluffs and bubbles form. brown second side.
  • Remove and keep warm.
Complete the meal: 
Top with butter and syrup. Fry the bacon and serve with side of grapes.

Note: Thaw chili in the refrigerator overnight.



[25] Chili
Ingredients:
refrigerated chili

Directions:
  • Reheat chili to boiling
  • Simmer 15-30 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Meanwhile prepare cornbread.
Complete the meal: 
Serve with cornbread and an optional salad.


I hope these simple family favorites have left you plenty of time to prepare for Thanksgiving. Holidays are made for celebrating, not stressing out!  
That leaves just five more meals on the Writers' Menu. I'll combine the last shopping list and recipes into one post later this week. Thanks for sticking with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shopping List for Eat Write Menu Days 18-25

The menu suggestions for this week are pretty basic. With Thanksgiving coming here in the U.S. you probably have lots of other preparations, so we have to minimize meal prep and empty our refrigerators. I hope the menus, shopping lists, and recipes have been a huge help in de-stressing both your holidays and your writing times. Drop me a line in anytime. I'd love to hear how you're juggling your responsibilities.


Need a good book to put you in the holiday mood?
Check out my review of Cranberry Thanksgiving.
2014 Eat Write Writers' Menu

Late to the party? Start here. You can still carve out extra time for writing amid your pre-Thanksgiving frenzy. Visit my Writers' Menu pinboard anytime you need a meal idea.

Assuming you're following the full menu, I've compiled a shopping list for days 18-25. You'll need to get these items by Monday so you can pop everything into the slow cooker by Tuesday morning. Double check the kitchen staples listed on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo, if you need to.

Just a reminder the Pot roast (Day 18), Teriyaki Chicken (Day 19), and Chili (Day 25) should be prepped and in the freezer by now, making this week's cooking a breeze! 

Don't forget, the numbers in brackets following the grocery item tell you which day the ingredient will be needed. Use the numbers if you make several small trips during the week, or if you've deviated from the Writers' Menu selections.

Special Note! Thanksgiving prep will be in full swing, so I've planned to use a bunch of convenience foods:
Day 18, I opt for mashed potato flakes and canned fruit.
Day 20, I use Tyson frozen chicken fingers, but help yourself to the freezable recipe from America's Test Kitchen, if you like. Buy veggie dip, or the ingredients to make your own.
On Day 21 I have chosen to use a bottled stir fry sauce. If you have a favorite sauce recipe, please leave it in the comments section or drop me an email. I'd love to try it.
Okay, I admit it. I resort to boxed macaroni and cheese on Day 22. Thanksgiving is coming; forgive me.
Ramen noodles supplement the leftovers on Day 23. What would PiBoIdMo be without them?
I use a cornbread mix on Day 25, because mine always comes out too dry and crumby.

Photo courtesy Sherry Smith-Noble,
 the Examiner
No matter how busy, I cook pancakes from scratch: 
Day 24 calls for the pancake recipe handed down from my grandmother. It's easier than you think. Make a note to buy mix if you opt out.

Shopping lists today, recipes tomorrow.
We're in the home stretch.
May all your picture book ideas be fabulous!

Friday, November 14, 2014

PPBF: This Land Is Your Land

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Book and Cd by Woody Guthrie and Kathy Jakobsen

This Land Is Your Land
Written by Woody Guthrie
Illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen
Little Brown, 1998
ages 4 and up


Themes:
Music, Patriotism, Activism, Biography, Folk Art




Opening:
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway.


Synopsis:
Produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woody Guthrie's famous song, this picture book features the complete lyrics to "This Land Is Your Land", a CD with nine of Guthrie's songs for children, and select lyrics to more than a dozen additional songs.  The forward by his daughter, Nora, details the making of the book. The afterward by Pete Seeger chronicles the history of the song itself. Folk Artist Kathy Jakobsen includes people and places which played an important role in Woody Guthrie's life. The last spread is a tri-fold pull-out  with a two page biography of the singer / songwriter.


What I Love:
This book goes beyond the obvious images evoked by this famous folk song, delving into the history of both the country and the singer.  It provides a splendid opportunity to talk about the dust bowl, the activism of the 60s, the civil rights movement, folk art, patriotism, the Great Depression, community service, immigration, and much more.

I love how the publisher chose a modern folk artist to illustrate the lyrics, and how she brought so much depth to the book, making it a biography instead of solely a tribute. My favorite detail is the use of tramp art motifs on the page borders. And, hey . . . fold-outs and a CD? What's not to love!



Memories of the Veteran,
by Nick Quijano Torres
Bonus:
1. Visit the Woody Guthrie Archives, online or in person.
2. Folk Art Revealed offers terrific lesson plans for grades K - 12.
3. For more art exposure, visit the American Folk Art Museum in New York.
4. Lesson Plans.com has some suggestions for children to compose their own music.
5. Bill Moyers examines the history of migrant workers in America on PBS.
6. Learn more about America's dust bowl from the History Channel online.
7. Find an overview of the Great Depression on Digital History's website.
8. Make a difference in your community. Volunteer at a local charity, or find your cause at VolunteerMatch.
9. The U. S. Department of Education has selected a list of books which will make children better citizens, including This Land Is Your Land.
10. I couldn't possibly list all the Perfect Picture Books which could be used as companions to this book. I've chosen a few about American geography, music, and folk artists. Check them out at your local library.

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Kirsten
Reviewed by Salaamu


book and CD about
musical composition
and the orchestra
Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Julie



Reviewed by Erik



Reviewed by Clar

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 14, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Eating Write Recipes, Day 11-17

Ready for More Writers' Menu 2014?

Below you'll find the meals for next week. 
I hope the planning I've put in
helps you fulfill your family's needs
and your picture book dreams. 

Courtesy Wayne Pollard
If this is your first visit, you'll find tips and instructions on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo
You'll find past make-ahead meals and shopping lists here.
All the ingredients needed for this list can be found on Thursday's post. Oops. I forgot to mention sandwich buns for the pulled pork on Day 15. We eat it on a plate, but if you want sandwiches - pick up a package of your favorite rolls.
Just a reminder that many recipes can be found in their original states on my Writers' Menu Pinterest Board.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or constructive comments.
Note: The numbers in [brackets] correspond to the dates on the meal planning calendar.
I've made a printable version of the information below, in case you don't want to keep referring back to this post.
Thanks for reading!



Writers' Recipes November 11-17

[11] Ham and Rice Casserole
Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups chopped cooked ham
8 oz water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 oz pimentos, drained
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
  • I use substitutions every time I make this casserole. If you like, use something with a bit of crunch instead of the water chestnuts, and something a bit tangy instead of the pimentos. Throw in a veggie, too, if you want. See my suggestions on the shopping list.
  • Saute green pepper in butter. 
  • Stir in flour until thickened and bubbly.
  • Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. 
  • Boil. Cook 2 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add mayonnaise. Mix well.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Heat through, stirring often.
Complete the meal:
Steam cauliflower and broccoli florets, season and serve.

Note: If using fresh, steam additional cup of broccoli for Day 16 and refrigerate or freeze. Thaw the unstuffed shells in the refrigerator overnight.



[12] Unstuffed Shells, courtesy OnceAMonthMeals.
Ingredients:
If you didn't freeze this meal ahead, you can make it today. Here's the recipe post.

Directions:
Bake at 375 degree F covered, 40-50 minutes or until heated through, uncovering after 30 minutes.

Complete the meal:
Serve with fresh bread.

Note: Don't forget to start the slow cooker first thing tomorrow morning.



[13] Nicole's Corn Chowder, courtesy TheCrockin'Girls.
Ingredients:
6-8 potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 Can cream corn
1 Can whole kernel corn
2 Cups chicken broth
8 Oz diced ham
1 Cup diced onions
1/4 Cup butter
2 Cups half and half

Directions:
  • Place potatoes, both cans of corn, chicken broth, ham, and onions in the slow cooker.
  • Cook on low 7-8 hours.
  • Mash the mixture to desired consistency, then add butter and half & half.. 
  • Cook on high additional 30 minutes.
Complete the meal:
Serve with a Spinach Salad even picky eaters will love.

  1. Start with 5 oz of spinach leaves per person. (You can break off the little stems and rip in half if you like.)
  2. Wash and hull strawberries. Slice and add to spinach.
  3. Clean fresh mushrooms with dry paper towel. Slice and add.
  4. For a twist, top with any leftover walnuts or cheeses.
  5. Tastes best with Balsamic, Strawberry, or poppy seed dressing, but you can serve with Italian or plain oil and vinegar, too. 
Note:
Tomorrow's slow cooker meal takes 3-4 hours.



[14] Chicken with Stuffing, courtesy StockpilingMoms.
(Ingredients represent double the original recipe to serve 6-8)
Ingredients:
8 boneless chicken breasts
2 boxes Cornbread Stuffing Mix (6oz ea)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water

Directions:
  • Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Pour stuffing mixes on top.
  • In a medium size bowl combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream and water; mix well.
  • Pour on top of stuffing mix.
  • Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours (check it at 3 hours).
  • Fluff and serve
Complete the meal:
Serve with Brussels sprouts or mixed veggies and a side of peaches.

Note: Remember to thaw tomorrow's pork shoulder in the refrigerator overnight. Start crock pot first thing in the morning.



[15] Pulled Pork, courtesy 100DaysofRealFood.
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt (if desired, you can cut back on the salt by only using 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired, you can cut back on the pepper by only using ½ teaspoon of cayenne, or none)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup honey
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half

Directions:
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork.
  • Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste.
  • Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker and top it with the 2 pieces of pork. 
  • Pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.
  • Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat can be shredded with a fork.
Complete the meal:
Serve with coleslaw, baked beans and pickles. You can top the pork with relish or hot sauce. Add pork to a bun for sandwiches.  Also makes great tacos. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

Note: Hard boil 6 eggs for tomorrow's salad.




[16] Crustless Quiche
Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 cup half & half
1/4 cup diced onion
leftover diced mushrooms, opt.
1 cup diced ham
1 cup diced broccoli, frozen or cooked from Day 11
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
8 oz shredded cheese

Directions:
  • Whisk eggs and half & half.
  • Whisk in onion, mushroom, ham, broccoli, salt, pepper, dill, and Parmesan.
  • Gently stir in shredded cheese.
  • Pour into pie plate.
  • Bake 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until center is set, not watery.
  • Serve hot or cold.
Complete the meal:
Try a Caesar salad for a change.
Toss Romaine or mixed greens with sliced hard cooked egg, croutons, sliced onion, and a few dried cranberries. Top with Caesar dressing and dash of Parmesan.


Note: If you are making tomorrow's tomato soup from scratch, gather your ingredients and try one of the recipes on my Pinterest board.



[17] Tomato soup and Grilled Cheese.
Ingredients:
canned tomato soup
water
sandwich bread
butter or margarine
Sliced havarti
Sliced cheddar

Directions:
  • Mix canned tomato soup with water.
  • Heat and serve. Add leftover croutons as an option.
  • Meanwhile, spread sandwich bread with butter. 
  • Grill half the slices butter side down in skillet. 
  • Top with 1 slice havarti and 1 slice cheddar.
  • Top with addition slices of bread. (butter side out)
  • Flip and grill until golden brown.
Note: Thaw the pot roast in the refrigerator overnight and start in the slow cooker early tomorrow morning.

Congratulations! You've made it through another week. And are saved you from becoming a starving artist.


Joanne Roberts, SkADaMo sketch at the Barn
Joanne Roberts, SkADaMo

Stay tuned. The next shopping list will appear late next week, and you'll have the next set of recipes by Saturday. Until then, see you on the PiBoIdMo FB page and be sure to follow the sketchers on #SkADaMo.

Friday, November 7, 2014

PPBF: Clever Jack Takes the Cake

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Clever Jack Takes the Cake,
by Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas

Clever Jack Takes the Cake
Written by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Schwartz & Wade, 2010
Grades 1-3, Reading Level AD600L
40 pp, 1384 words



Themes:
Friendship, Folk Tale, Birthday





Opening:
One summer morning long ago, a poor boy named Jack found an invitation slipped beneath his cottage door. It read:

His Majesty the King 
cordially invites 
all the children of the Realm
 to 
the Princess's Tenth Birthday 
Party
tomorrow afternoon
in the Castle Courtyard


Synopsis:
Lowly Jack is invited to the princess's birthday, but he has no present to bring. Selling his few possessions, resourceful Jack gathers the ingredients he needs to make the perfect birthday cake. On his way to the castle, poor Jack and his cake are menaced by an assortment of characters, from four-and-twenty blackbirds to a greedy troll. Disappointed Jack must eventually face the princess empty-handed. It will take all his cleverness to keep the party from being a total loss.

What I Love:
What can Candy write that we will not adore? Not much. Here is a new tale, traditionally told, which satisfies the ache for fairy tales in a refreshing way. The author twists in the familiar in this subtractive tale (the opposite of cumulative?), but she ends up with a story which is anything but ordinary: A story about resourcefulness and the charming ability children have to bear up under adversity and to build friendship in unlikely ways.

Brian proves he is a superlative illustrator with his deceptively simple art. He transports us to a time and place with the sparest of details. He captures the characters emotions with a flick of the pen. From Jack to the dancing bear, I just want to hug them all! Adorable, without being cutesy!

Bonus:
1. I hope you don't have to sell your possessions to cook up Paula Deen's Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake.
2. TeachingBooks lists some lesson plan ideas for this book on their site.
3. The sound quality on this you tube clip is poor, but this young man's performance of Clever Jack is almost as much fun as reading the book!
4. Jules interviews Candace about Clever Jack right after its initial publication, and an gives an overview of Brian's career on 7 Imp.
5. I recently learned about the Appalachian Jack Tales heritage from E Dulemba. Learn more about Jack in traditional folklore or read the Dance Among Thorns, the original Jack tale. Candy's book has a more European flavor, but it definitely carries on the Jack Tale tradition.
6. Color a traditional Jack and the Beanstalk coloring page from Super Coloring Pages.
7. Here's an  eclectic mix of Perfect Picture Books which would be fun to read together. Find them at your local library.

A resourceful heroine
Reviewed by Jennifer

Elizabeth O. Dulemba's
bilingual Jack Tale
Reviewed by Julie

Crazy folktale adaptations
Reviewed by Clarike


Another birthday story
Reviewed by Beth





A journey book
Reviewed by Miss Marple







Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 7, 2014, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shopping List for Writers' Menu Days 11-17

Oops, not sure why this didn't show up first thing this morning. Sorry for the inconvenience.

How are your idea notebooks coming along? I love my new notebook which holds quotes from Picture Book Month, ideas during Picture Book Idea Month, and drawings for Sketch-A-Day Month. It's filling up fast. How about yours?

On to the 2014 Writers' Menu

View the calendar or full menu
Late to the party? Start here. You can still have your writing time and eat, too.

Assuming you're following the full menu, I've compiled a shopping list for days 11-17. You'll need to get these items by Tuesday at the latest. Double check the kitchen staples listed on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo, if you need to.

If you haven't prepped the Unstuffed Shells for Day 12, you'll find the recipe here.

Again, the numbers in brackets following the grocery item tell you which day the ingredient will be needed. Use the numbers if you make several small trips during the week, or if you've deviated from the Writers' Menu selections.

Places where I use convenience foods:
Day 14, I use frozen veggies and canned peaches on the side.
Day 15, I buy coleslaw at the deli. Mine never tastes as good as my mom's homemade. And I use canned baked beans because the crock pot is already occupied for the day.
Day 17, I opt for canned tomato soup. I haven't had the time to try the recipes on my Pinboard, but you can if you are feeling adventurous.
Day 20, I use Tyson frozen chicken fingers, but I love the freezable recipe from America's Test Kitchen.
On Day 21 I have chosen to use a bottled stir fry sauce. Leave your favorite sauce recipe in the comments. I'd love to hear about it.

Places where I cook from scratch:
I prefer cooking raw vegetables instead of frozen. Substitute frozen vegetables as sides on the appropriate days, if you like.
Day 24 calls for the pancake recipe handed down from my grandmother. It's easier than you think. Make a note to buy mix if you opt out.
Day 28 calls for homemade French bread pizza. I'll never go back to frozen.


Directions and links for the second week of November will be posted tomorrow. Thanks for following along!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Isn't It Always Picture Book Month?

Thanks to Dianne de Las Casas
November is the month we set aside to celebrate the picture book as art form, teaching tool, muse, and BFF. Check the posts each day to hear from a new Picture Book Month Ambassador.

More than that, I hope you will take the time to read to someone special in your life. It doesn't always have to be a child. For more on the power of picture books, read Margie Myers-Culver's heart-warming account on Writing for Kids While Raising Them.

Friday, October 31, 2014

SkADaMo and Writers' Menu Begins

November 1st means an extra hour of sleep, thanks to Daylight Savings Time. Or will you use your hour to flesh out your picture book ideas?

Why not try a new challenge? Have you heard of Linda Silvestri's SkADaMo (SketchADayMonth)?

Zoot Suit Newt, by Linda Silvestri

Stay tuned to her blog, Sketched Out, for wacky animal puns and details of her upcoming drawing events.


Welcome to Writers' Menu 2014!

Here are your meals for the week. 
I hope the planning I've put in helps you take care of your family  
and fill your notebook with seeds of picture book ideas. 

If this is your first visit, you'll find tips and instructions on How Not To Starve During PiBoIdMo
You'll find past make-ahead meals and shopping lists here.
All the ingredients needed for this list can be found on yesterday's post.
Just a reminder that most recipes can be found in their original states on my Writers' Menu Pinterest Board.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or constructive comments.
Note: The numbers in [brackets] correspond to the dates on the meal planning calendar.
I've made a printable version of the information below, in case you don't want to keep referring back to this post.


Writers' Recipes November 1-10

[1] Roast Chicken
Ingredients:
Whole Chicken, About 1 lb per serving plus about 2 lbs
1 Lemon per chicken

Directions:
  • Remove giblets from thawed whole chicken. 
  • Rinse and pat dry. Cut lemon in half. 
  • Place halves inside chicken cavity. 
  • Place whole chicken in slow cooker. 
  • Sprinkle with seasonings if desired. 
  • Cook in slow cooker on low 6 hours. 
  • Internal temperature should read 165 degrees F. 
Complete the meal:
I recommend Stovetop Stuffing, cooked carrots, and a fruit cup. I often add dried cranberries [Day 4] into the stuffing mix.

Note: Cut up leftover chicken and store for use on Day 4.



[2] Spaghetti and Meatballs
Ingredients:
Spaghetti
Pasta sauce
16 oz Frozen meatballs, or less

Directions:
Really guys? Follow the directions on the package.
Complete the meal:
Serve with garlic bread and melon slices.
If you make your own Garlic bread , you can try this recipe from IowaGirlEats
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Slice a demi-loaf of French or Italian bread into 1/2″ slices being careful not to cut all the way through the bottom crust. 
  • Melt a couple Tablespoons butter in a small dish then add garlic salt and Italian seasoning
  • Brush the seasoned, melted butter in between the slices to get everything covered. 
  • Wrap the loaf in foil. 
  • Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. 
Note:
Don't forget to thaw tomorrow's Broccoli soup in the refrigerator overnight. Remember to start the potatoes an hour earlier.


[3] Creamy Broccoli Soup
Ingredients:
soup base
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half and half
garlic salt
1 cup shredded Gouda Cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Directions:
  • You should have the soup base pre-made in your freezer. (If not you'll find the recipe here.) 
  • Thaw base in refrigerator overnight. 
  • Heat base to boiling. 
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. 
  • Whisk in flour. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes. 
  • Whisk in just the liquid from the base. Thicken, 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add vegetables , half and half, and dash of garlic salt. 
  • Mix slowly until heated through. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt and pepper to taste. 
Complete the meal:
Pair with baked potatoes. Top with sour cream or butter.
Never baked your own potatoes?
Wash potatoes. Prick skin with fork. Rub with a little butter if you eat the skins. Wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in 375 degree F oven for about 1 hour.



[4] Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
Salad greens
tomatoes pieces
sliced carrots
sliced cucumber
chopped green pepper
shredded cheese
dried cranberries
chopped walnuts
croutons
leftover chicken from Day 1


Directions:
Throw it all together. This salad is best with an Italian or vinaigrette dressing. 
Picky eaters? Try one of these remedies.

  • Sprinkle with a little sugar before serving.
  • Relabel your usual dressing bottle (Gilly Wateror Skele-Growanyone?)
  • Surf the dressing aisle for an unusual flavor. 
  • Let them mix and match the ingredients above, like a buffet. 
  • Try salad shakers. 
  • Challenge their taste buds by allowing them to eliminate only 2 of the salad ingredients. 
  • Play Veggie Ninja: Set a time limit. Have them spear different combinations of ingredients on their forks each time they dip in. Bonus points if the bowl is empty when time's up.
Note: Remember to thaw tomorrow's meatloaf in the refrigerator overnight. You may want to make tomorrow's Tomato and Cucumber salad today, and let it marinate overnight.


[5] Meatloaf
If you've been following along, you should have a meatloaf in the freezer. If not, try the recipe I inherited with my grandmom's cookbook.

Directions:

  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight. 
  • Bake 350 degrees F for approximately 1 hour. Meatloaf should not be pink in the middle.
  • Top with gravy if desired.
Complete the meal:
Serve with mashed potatoes, broccoli, and a fabulous tomato & cucumber side from NotWithoutMyMom
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Ingredients:
2 c. Cucumber, chopped
2 c. Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small Onion, thinly sliced (about 3/4 c.)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. White Vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper
1 tsp sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, longer if possible.


Note: Don't forget to thaw tomorrow's fish in the refrigerator overnight. For milder taste, Place unwrapped fillets in shallow dish of milk. Cover with plastic wrap. Thaw overnight. Drain, and discard milk before cooking.




[6] Tilapia with Olives, courtesy BBCGoodFood
Ingredients:
6 Tilapia or cod fillets, thawed
I large onion, roughly chopped
1 15 oz can black olives
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
parsley
Lemon wedges

Directions:
  • Thaw Tilapia in refrigerator overnight. For milder taste, Place unwrapped fillets in shallow dish of milk. Cover with plastic wrap. Thaw overnight. Drain, and discard milk before cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Heat 1 Tbl of the oil from the olives in an ovenproof pan. 
  • Tip in the onion and stir well, leave to cook 1-2 minutes. Stir again.
  • Add the tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then add the olives.
  • Put the fish, skin side down, onto the sauce and drizzle over a splash more oil from the olive jar.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. 
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve straight from the pan, with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Complete the meal:
This goes great with a side of couscous, some cooked carrots, and dinner rolls.


Note: Remember to thaw tomorrow's pork chops in refrigerator overnight. Start your crock pot meal in the morning, write until dinner time.


[7] Ranch Pork Chops, Thanks to StockpilingMoms.
Ingredients:
6 boneless porkchops
1 Ranch Seasoning Dry Mix Packet
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (plus 1 can of water or milk)

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
  • Mix Well.
  • Cook on low 4-6 hours.
Complete the meal:
Serve over egg noodles, with frozen or canned peas and corn.


[8] BBQ Meatballs, Thanks to the CountryCook.
Ingredients:
16 oz Frozen meatballs
9 oz Grape Jelly
9 oz BBQ sauce


Directions:

  • Combine Jelly and BBQ sauce. 
  • Place frozen meatballs in slow cooker. 
  • Cover with sauce. 
  • Cook low 6 hours.
Complete the meal:
Believe it or not, these meatballs are fantastic over rice, in a sandwich, or with noodles. The kids come back for thirds. Pair with applesauce and raw veggies.
Prepare carrot sticks, celery stalks, leftover cucumbers, tomatoes, and green peppers. Don't forget black olives, if you have any. Use a ranch dressing dip, or make your own with sour cream.


[9] Leftover Night!
Use up all the goodies you cooked all week, pull out a frozen entree, or send your family out to dinner so you can have a bit more writing time.


Note: Remember to thaw the bacon in the refrigerator overnight.



[10] Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Special
Ingredients:
bacon
eggs
milk
croissants
oranges
Optional scrambled egg mix-ins: salsa , hot sauce, cheese, onions, green peppers, mushrooms
Any leftover baked potatoes? Chop into small pieces and fry as hash.


Directions: My kids love breakfast for dinner. Serve scrambled, over easy, or omelet-style. Mix in any leftover veggies so you can start fresh this week.
Fry up the bacon and you're ready to eat! Serve with croissants and oranges. Bottomless pits fill up faster with a side of yogurt, additional fruit leftovers, or my secret weapon, chocolate milk.
Note: You can get a head start on next week by cooking the other half pound of bacon, draining, chopping, and refreezing in a plastic baggie.
Now I can sleep at night, knowing that thousands of PiBo families are going to bed with full tummies. If this is working for your family, I'd love to hear about it. Happy writing!