Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Here I am again on a Sunday where I actually get a moment to breathe.  However, this Sunday has been particularly busy since I have so much to do!  I can't believe I've gotten so busy!  This coming week of school will actually be my first week with 5 days of teaching.  Sorta funny isn't it?  We started with a 3 day week, then there was Labor Day and that meant a 4 day week, and then we had a full week with assessment days so I really only taught 4 days.  This week, however, is totally normal.

I have a lot planned for this week and I spent the entire morning typing out my lesson plans, printing off exit tickets, and uploading warm ups and other activities to my school account.  I feel pretty prepared and that makes me feel good.  Also, I like planning an entire week at a time because it ensures that I know where the students are going during the week and where they should be by the end of the week.  This isn't to say that I'm not open to changing my lessons as I go along.  I am constantly adapting plans and changing them from class to class or day to day.  What works in one class may not work in another and that means I have to be flexible.  Lately, I have also been getting visitors in my classes.  My Division Chair has observed a few of my classes and this week the teacher in charge of the mentor program is coming to observe.  This added feedback makes me feel stressed out, but it is very helpful and I keep telling myself to stay calm and open minded.  I can't wait to see how everything goes!

The meal I have to share today was made a while ago, but it was super yummy and I just couldn't forget about it.  I was craving comfort food, Bri is a vegetarian, and I wanted to make something that would last a while.  So, I found this awesome recipe for a Vegetarian Pot Pie, I adapted it to be lightened up, and I made the Sweet Potato Biscuits to go on top.  It was a delicious casserole meal and it was jam packed with veggies!

Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits:
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
7 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup skim milk
Pot Pie:
1 1/2 lbs. brussel sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and cut in half
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 lb. pearl onions, blanced and peeled
1 heal cauliflower, cut into 1 inch pieces
22 sage leaves
8 thyme sprigs
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cream
1 egg

1. Prepare the sweet potato biscuits: Microwave the sweet potato on high until it can be easily pierced with a fork.  Peel the potato and mash into a bowl.  Set aside.
2. Pour the vinegar into the bottom of a liquid measuring cup.  Fill with milk until you reach the 1 cup line.  Let sit for 5 minutes (this is a buttermilk substitute).  
3. In a food processor, process the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Continue to pulse as you add in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Add in the sweet potato and then slowly pour in the buttermilk until the mixture forms into a ball.
4.  Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until 1/2 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut out 12 circles.  Re-roll the dough as needed. Set circles aside.

5. Prep all the veggies. To blanch the onions, let them boil in water for 3 minutes.  Drain and remove skins.
6. Preheat oven to 425.  Place cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and onions in a 13 by 9 inch pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add 6 sage leaves and 4 thyme sprigs.  Let roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, throw away sage/thyme and reduce the oven heat to 375.

7. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, onion, 6 sage leaves, and 2 thyme sprigs.  Let simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Strain the milk into a bowl, discard the onion, sage, and thyme.
8. In the same saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add in the milk and continue to whisk until mixture thickens, 10-15 minutes.  Chop two sage leaves and the remaining two thyme sprigs.  Add the chopped sage, thyme, and cream to the milk mixture.  Season with nutmeg.  Pour over the veggies in the 13 by 9 inch pan.  Add in the frozen peas.

9.  Place the 12 un-cooked biscuits over the vegetable mixture.  Press 1 sage leaf into each biscuit.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and then brush a little over each biscuit.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned and puffy.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Healthier Mac and Cheese

Well, I knew this blog thing was gonna be hard to keep up once school got started and I guess I was right.

I have now been teaching for a few weeks and I absolutely love it.  It is difficult work and I am always tired, but I love going to school and being in the classroom.  In the next few weeks, I have a lot of my observations starting and I am nervous, but also excited about getting feedback and having people in the classroom.  The beginning of the year is such a crucial time for everything and it has been a blast getting to know the students. Now, I am working really hard to establish a solid classroom routine and classroom culture.  Both of these are important to me as I feel it helps students be better students because they know the expectations and are not surprised by what they have to do.  My latest idea is a small reward for students who do all their homework well for a week.  If the whole class does their homework well for a week I have promised baked goods, but a lot of kids don't do homework so we will see if this happens.  I think kids should do their homework no matter what, but since it seems to be such a struggle I am going to try this system for a little.  I also had my first quizzes and tests on Friday and this assessment allowed me to see what we need to go over and work on moving forward.  Both assessments had a lot of review from last year on them and it was helpful to see what students know and what they forgot.

In other news, I am also LOVING living in the city.  I love my apartment and, although I haven't been blogging as much, I have been cooking a lot!  Bri typically picks out a vegetarian recipe that sounds good, we go grocery shopping on Saturday and then cook on Sunday.  While I do most the cooking, he gets to work cleaning the apartment and it is a wonderful system.  I love Sundays because I get to cook a bunch for the week and then I just lie around and work on school stuff or enter grades while catching up on TV.  There is nothing like a solid lazy Sunday.  One of the things I made on such a Sunday was this Healthier Mac and Cheese recipe.  It was a huge hit (Bri didn't even know it was "healthy") and I will definitely be making it again!

Healthier Mac and Cheese

12 oz whole wheat noodles
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
3/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt (I used Chobani), divided
1 cup skim milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp mustard powder
couple dashes of Frank's Hot Sauce
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Cook the pasta according to directions to al dente, drain and set aside.
2. In a small pan, saute the onions in a tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent.  Set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for two minutes.  While whisking, pour in the milk and 1/2 cup yogurt.  Continue to stir until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese, 1/4 cup of yogurt and seasonings.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the pasta into your cheese sauce and stir to coat.  Place into an oven safe dish and top with the onions.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Enjoy :)