Sunday, February 13, 2011

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!




Happy Valentines day from the pond! While Frog spends a good deal of time learning in a self contained one to one environment, we don't want him to miss out on those special moments of elementary school like the annual valentine exchange. Since he pushes into various classes - we have valentine class lists for three rooms - his third grade general ed class, the fourth grade class he visits regularly, and the special ed class he works with. While he has worked very hard on starting to write and type, 60 cards seemed a bit much to ask. We opted for putting stickers on zip lock bags that I then filled with homemade spiced hot chocolate mix. Diva was generous and printed up a tag with Frog's name and directions for enjoying the mix.

The plan is for Frog to enjoy the celebration tomorrow with his peers and have a little something to share with everyone. It was a little bit of work, but we all had fun (Frog liked sneaking off with the cinnamon candies!)

Here is our recipe for those who would like to try it out and those who received the gift and want more information - Enjoy:


VALENTINES SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE -

Ingredients

* 1 3/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
* 1/2 cup baking cocoa
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 cup miniature marshmallows
* 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
* 1/4 cup red hots or hot tamale cinnamon candies
* ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
* 3/4 cup hot milk

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine milk powder, sugar, creamer, cocoa and cinnamon. Add the marshmallows; mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months. Yield: 18-19 batches (about 3-1/2 cups total). To prepare hot chocolate: Dissolve about 3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix in hot milk.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

IEP Cookie of the Month - February 2011

HAZELNUT-MOCHA MACAROONS

Macaroons are near and dear to our hearts here at the pond, because they can be made Gluten Free without much extra effort or change in taste or texture.

I've made several different Macaroon recipes - but the recipe from the Food Network Kitchen is by far our favorite:

I do have a couple of modifications -

1. For convenience sake - don't worry about finding hazelnuts with the skins removed. The cookies may come out a bit more rustic, but they are equally delicious.



2. Combined 1 and 1/2 of the two cups of powdered sugar with the nuts and the cocoa in the food processor reserving only 1/2 cup of sugar for the egg whites.

3. Use extra large eggs for the egg whites.



4. Fold nut mixture into beaten egg whites.

5. If you don't have a pastry bag, a small disher works just as well.



6. If you need more cookies, spread melted chocolate ganache on the bottom of each cookie and allow it to set without sandwiching two cookies together.


If you are not familiar with macaroons (especially the kind without coconut) these are light and rich, crispy and chewy, they melt in your mouth and are very soul satisfying :0) ENJOY!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Our new Picture

I thought it was a good idea to update our blog layout and get a fresh start. The new picture was taken on a field trip to the Olympic Game Farm. Frog enjoyed the bus ride through the farm immensely. He also enjoyed the bread (meant to be fed to the bison)although he suffered for it later.






The Game Farm was originally established to house and train animals who would appear in Disney films. The owner/operators of the farm convinced Disney that it would be a good idea to open the farm to the public. We've been visiting the game farm since I was a child.







We even have a family connection. My grandmother served as a surragate mother to two tiny bear cubs who's mother had been shot by a poacher. I remember visiting Grandma and the bears she was caring for. I wasn't allowed to get too close, but I got to watch them eat from a bottle and play on the floor at grandma's house. If I remember correctly, they went from Grandma's to the Game Farm and latter appeared in a Disney movie or two. That is the closest our family ever got to Hollywood!




Frog enjoyed the fish most of all - not surprising for a boy who would like to live in the sea :0)

IEP Cookie of the Month - January

As a part of my law practice, I do educational advocacy for families of special needs children. As an advocate I join the school IEP team at the parents' request and work to facilitate parent involvement in developing an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) that works for their child.

A tool of my advocacy trade is freshly baked homemade cookies. I find the cookies provide a little well deserved and needed energy boost after a long day; give the team a common activity to bond over (lots of requests for the recipes, talking about favorite cookies and what the kids like etc.); and give people something to chew on (literally) while they listen to someone else talk - especially when there is disagreement. I haven't gone so far yet as to offer someone a cookie when I need them to stop talking and listen - but the option is always there :0).

Taking a cue from one of my favorite SLP's over at IF ONLY I HAD SUPERPOWERS I am going to start posting one of the cookies recipes I use each month. Why?

1. It is nice to share.

2. I will know where to find them when I want them.

3. When I get requests for the recipes, I can just e-mail the link!

Most of my recipes come from other sources - you will see the credit with the recipe. I do, however, tend to modify the recipes to my own taste. I will post the recipe with my modifications where appropriate.

Without further adieu -

IEP Cookie for January 2011

Orange Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Bon App├ętit | February 2003

by chef Cliff Trubowitz

Bump & Grind Cafe, Denver, CO

Modified by Frog's Mom




Ingredients:

* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons (packed) grated orange peel
* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
* 1 large egg yolk
* 3TBS heavy whipping cream
* 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
* Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
* 1/2 cup whipping cream
* 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli double chocolate chips)




Preparation:



Place Orange Juice in a sauce pan over medium heat and reduce to by 3/4.

Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and 1 tsp. reduced orange juice in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in yolk, then cream. Add flour mixture; beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Wrap dough in plastic wrap are refrigerate for one hour.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour large baking sheet.

On a floured work surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with round cookie or biscut cutter (a wine glass will work in a pinch).



Place cut cookies on prepared cookie sheets and repeat with remaning dough. Sprinkle unbaked cookies with turbinado sugar.



Bake cookies until golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

In a sauce pan over medium low heat, warm 1/2 cup heavy cream. When cream is warm, add bittersweet chocolate chips and reduce heat to low. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Dip half of each cooled cookie into the warm chocolate. Place on rack or greased waxed or parchment paper and let chocolate set.



(Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Orange-Shortbread-Cookies-with-Chocolate-Chips-107723#ixzz1D8013i3Z

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Annual Beach Trip 2010

I'm Back . . . well on the way at least. Since there were NO posts for 2010 I'll give you the highlight: The Annual Beach Trip to the WA coast. Frog looked forward to this trip all summer.








He was really hoping he could bring a friend like Diva does. The girls were really good about letting him join them in their space for awhile, but it wasn't the same. It was hard to explain that because he is younger, the kids he knows would not be comfortable being away from their parents for a whole weekend. He also doesn't have "friends" the way Diva does. We did find some kids on the beach who enjoyed getting wet and sandy almost as much as Frog does. He enjoyed keeping an eye one them.



Having a Friend has become a big concern for Frog - he worries about it constantly. When we have boys he knows over for play dates, he is excited - overly so - and can't bring himself to stay where they are, leaving them alone to "play" with his mom. We are working on small group activities - hoping to do more when the weather is nice.

At school he was asked to write to the prompt "When I opened the door I was surprised to see . . ." He wrote about seeing his friend T (T is Diva's friend's brother). The story went on to describe how they rode their bikes around the neighborhood then went to T's house to play. T and his mom were really honored. They invited Frog to come into their house. He wanted to, but just couldn't bring himself to do it - balking at the door and rocking for awhile before returning to the car to go home. We will continue to work on it.

When we asked him what he wanted for Christmas he said no to toys, books, clothes, candy, and yes to Friend (he said he wanted a 4th grader).






Santa is still working on that one.

Frog also spent last fall writing a book about himself. He said he wants to help other kids understand more about autism and about him. We are looking forward to receiving the published copy in the next month or so - watch for future post :0)