Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crack Casserole


One of our favorite comfort meals is something we call "Crack Casserole." It's called that because once you've had it, you're hooked and want more and more, just as if you were on crack. Tacky title for a recipe? Probably.

Anyway, my good friend Shannon recently texted me and asked for the recipe. Since I make it often, I thought about checking my blog and just sending her the link, but to my surprise, I had not (yet) blogged this recipe. I had just bought the items to make CC this week anyway, so I told her I'd take pics and blog the recipe and send her the link.

I've seen this made with potato chips (instead of french onions) on top too. 

Without further ado, here is the recipe (with step by step pictures) of one of our favorite recipes.

There's the "official" recipe

 I add the 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup sour cream first

 Then I add 3/4 bag of shredded cheese

 Then the 1/2 can of COM soup. **REMEMBER only 1/2 can** I made the mistake of dumping the whole can once and it was way too rich. It's 1/2 can for a reason!

 Then water chestnuts (you can omit if you don't like WCs but they add a really nice crunch to the finished product)

 Roughly five stalks of celery

 Whole Rotisserie Chicken- This one was maple bourbon flavored and was yummy. Original or something hearty would be good- avoid lemon flavored though.

 Start removing all the meat off the RC. My kitties enjoy this part the most. >^..^<

 This is what you'll get off one RC. Then you chop up the meat and add it to the bowl

 Everything's in (except for the Fried Onions)-- you mix with a spoon so everything is evenly mixed

 Put everything in a casserole dish (or glass dish/pan)

 Add a little cheese (not all the remaining cheese-- just a little) and a handful of fried onions

 It bakes for 40 minutes (UNCOVERED)- It'll look like this.

 Then I add the rest of the cheese and the remaining amount of fried onions and bake for another 5 minutes
 After the five minutes are up, remove and let it cool for 10 minutes

Enjoy! You can top it with a dollop of sour cream, add ketchup to it, or just enjoy it as it is.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy Bag Swap II

What is a Busy Bag Swap, you ask? It's when you pick an activity that a child can do (independently) to occupy their time and keep busy and engaged. Usually the activity is educational of some-sort, and easy to reproduce.

Back in May of 2012, my MOMS Club had our very first Busy Bag Swap. It was so successful and well-received, that we decided to try it again in 2013. 

How to organize a Busy Bag Swap
1) Pick a day to have the swap.
2) Pick a month BEFORE the set swap date and that's your sign-up deadline.
3) Announce the swap to a group of friends (in my case it was to my MOMS Club chapter).
4) Give everyone the deadline for signing-up and see how many sign up for your swap.
5) Once your swap sign-up has closed, then among those that signed up, decide if you'll make crafts based on the number of moms, the number of kids, or a craft/bag for every child you sign up.

**Here's where it's tricky and IMPORTANT to seriously think through the decision of how many crafts your swappers will be making.

If you go by the number of MOMS- you may have moms with multiple kids and the kids will have to share their bags. You'll also have the fewest number of bags/activities that you'll be bringing home.

If you go by the number of KIDS- you will have one bag/activity for every child, and moms with more than one kid participating in the swap, will have doubles (one bag of x for Joey and another bag of x for Sally).

If you go by the rule of one bag/activity for every child signed up, you'll have more crafts to choose from, but it ends up being a lot more work for moms with more than one child participating. 

Confused yet?
For the last scenario, let's say you've got mom A. She's got one child participating in the swap. When she signs up, she will pick ONE activity/bag to make since she's only got one kiddo. 

But, when mom B signs up with her two kids, she will list TWO different activities/bags that she'll be making because she has two kiddos.  

Mom C signs up and she also has two kiddos participating, so she picks TWO different activities/bag to make. 

Mom D signs up and she has three kiddos participating. She picks THREE different activities/bags to make.

You now have FOUR moms and EIGHT kids. But you'll have EIGHT different activities.

So if you did it based on moms, each mom will have to make 4 copies of her  ONE activity/bag. Each mom leaves the swap with FOUR bags/activities.

If you did it based on kids, each mom will make 8 copies of her ONE activity/bag. Each mom will go home with FOUR different activities/bags (but siblings will each have their own set of bags/activities).

If you did it based on each child = a different bag/activitiy, the mom with ONE child will only have to make 8 copies of her ONE activitiy. But if it's a mom with two kiddos participating, she will make 8 copies of ONE activity/bag and then 8 copies of ANOTHER activity/bag. Mom B and C will each be making 16 total bags/activities (1x8 for child A and 1x8 for child B). Mom D will have to make 8 copies of ONE activity/bag for child A, 8 copies of ANOTHER (different) activity/bag, and 8 copies of yet ANOTHER (different) activity/bag. So she will be bringing 24 bags to the swap (3 kids, 8 copies of each activity/bag= 24 total bags (8 of each of her THREE different bags/activities).

When you do it based on each child=a different activity, we'd have each mom coming home from the swap with a total of  EIGHT different activities.

Confusing right? Try sitting at a table with six women and trying to explain how this all works and why one is better than the other. As a mom of just one kiddo participating, it was easy to say one different activity for every child participating, but our moms with twins and triplets had to make 2 and 3 times as many activities. So for the first Busy Bag Swap, we did one different activity for every child. We walked away with a TON of activities, but the moms with more than one kiddo participating didn't like having to make so much more.

So this year, we decided one bag per child, since we didn't want to have to worry about siblings having to share bags. We had thirteen kiddos and ten moms, so we each came home with ten bags!

Here's what we made this year:
 The sheet is laminated and double-sided. The bag came with a dry-erase marker and a bag of lower case a-z magnets, upper case A-Z magnets and 0-10 magnets
 The kids can use the marker to trace their name, alphabet and number. They can also put the sheet on a cookie sheet and use the magnets to cover the corresponding letter/number.

 Felt pizza making kit. Each child got the dough, sauce, and then a bag full of cheese, and various toppings. They also got an order card that says how many pieces of each topping to put on the pizza.

 Felt activity- A tree with a bag that goes with it full of leaves and flowers. A cone with a bag full of ice cream and toppings, and then a water scene with a bag full of fish and sea-life related items

A bag of different colored pasta and different types of pasta, and then cups to sort based on type of pasta and color

 Paint  chips and clothespins with matching colors for practicing colors and matching

 Five Speckled Frogs-  a bag of little frogs and cards with a number of frogs on them. Kids can put the set number of frogs on each card and count, and can go further with doubling them and skip-counting

 Pipe cleaners and beads with a handy bag to carry them- great for fine-motor skills

 Magnet sticks to collect colored paperclips- great for colors, counting, and sorting

My activity- Name cards

I made each child's name and then glued a bulletin board accent to construction paper/card stock. The child then matches the non-glued set of letters to create their name. It's a great way to teach children how to spell their names. I laminated my copy and then put magnets on the back for Gus to play with on the fridge.