Monday, June 16, 2014

Homemade Pasta Chips

Looking for an easy, yet impressive recipe for company? Well, here you go. These pasta chips are easy, but please note that patience is key. Your guests are sure to be dazzled. This recipe serves 6-8.

16 oz farfalle pasta (bow tie pasta)
1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups olive oil, for frying
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 & 1/2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (homemade or canned), for dipping

Boil the pasta according to package directions.

Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high, until the end of a wooden spoon creates popping bubbles, like this:

Reduce heat to low. In batches, fry the pasta in a single layer. You should need to add a tad more oil, between batches, and also wait for the oil to reach the desired temperature again.

Once pasta is golden brown (about 8-10 minutes, per batch), remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Be patient. Pasta should look like this:

Sprinkle with grated parmesan, and serve with marinara. Yummy!

A couple notes:

I've found it works better to sprinkle each batch with parmesan, while still hot, before placing in the serving dish. This ensures the cheese is evenly spread throughout. 

Also, you can flavor these chips in a variety of ways. You can sprinkle with salt, chili powder, and garlic, and skip the dip, for example. Play with it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Teaching Kids Basic Life Skills

It's summer! While fun is on the agenda, I also like to take this slowed down chunk of time, to focus on basic life skills. I want my kids prepared for the real world, and ready to live on their own, when they leave for college. There's only one way to achieve that. They have to be taught, and then they have to practice these skills, regularly. Here's my running list of things I want them to accomplish on their own, before flying the coop. Please make mention of anything you find I may have missed, in the comments. I'd like to cover as many bases as I can!

  • Budget-Almost everyone anyone knows is in debt. I'd like my kids to be equipped with the skill of living within their means.
  • Balance a Checking Account-Goes along with the budgeting, but people often skip this step, with today's technology.
  • How To Do Their Taxes-or at least how to find someone to do their taxes for them, and then check behind them
  • How To and When To See a Doctor-Knowing the difference between a tickle in the throat and the flu, and how to make an appointment is clearly important. 
  • Basic Car Upkeep/Change a Tire/Jump Start a Car-I mastered each of these skills before I was 16. They've come in handy more times than I can count.
  • Basic Housekeeping-I wish I had known how to keep a house clean, before I was in charge of my own, lol! It took me years to find my stride.
  • Laundry-Yeah, I'm not washing weeks worth of your dirty skivvies, when you come home from college. Let me show you how to manage that now!
  • Handle Basic Tools-Learning to use a hammer, screwdriver, drill, etc. is a must.
  • Build a Fire-I guess I just want to know they're warm.
  • Replace a Fuse/Reset Breakers-No one likes the dark.
  • CPR & Heimlich-Safety first.
  • Prepare and Cook Meals-I'd hate to think of my kids living on Pop-Tarts and pizza rolls...not that they won't anyway. I just don't want to think about it.
  • Return an Item-Confession. I was too irrationally nervous, to return anything, until I was in my late twenties. No idea why. I don't want my kids stuck with things they don't need or want.
  • Reattach a Button-Confession number two. My husband is in charge of this, at our house.
  • Parallel Park-My drivers education class did not require this. My mom taught me anyway. Go mom!
  • Speak At Least 2 Languages-I'd prefer Spanish be their second language, because it would be most helpful in the American job market.
  • Type-Computer skills aren't really a problem, in today's society, but proper typing is somehow hard to come by.
  • Navigate WITHOUT Electronics-GPS is awesome. It really is, but what happens when there's no way to charge the battery? I want my kids to be able to read a map, and find their way.
  • Negotiate-I'd like my kids to master the art of the haggle. Knowing how to manage a dispute, or get a great deal can only benefit them.
  • Basic Self Defense-Again, safety first.
  • Inform Themselves-Whether it be about politics or a skill I forgot to teach them, self-guided learning, and knowing how to weed out opinions from the facts, might be the number one life skill I'd like my kids to have.
  • How To Interview/Apply For a Job-Um, why is this not taught in traditional school?!
  • Listen-I don't mean obey. I mean listen, really listen to others, and learn to read between the lines. I don't want my children to be naive, and fall prey to people who won't have their best interest at heart.

This list is incomplete. I will surely think of more, before the time comes. Anything you would add?