Monday, November 24, 2014

Independence Hall

Where the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the Constitution of the United States was debated, drafted and signed.
The Liberty Bell was originally call the State House Bell.  Abolitionist changed the name to The Liberty Bell during the unit-slavery movement.
 "By Order of the Assembly of the Province of Pensylvania for the State House in Philada."
Pennsylvania was misspelled on the bell, in fact it was also misspelled on the original version of the Constitution.

We took our British guests on a tour through Independence Hall neighborhoods.
The architecture was amazing.  
Especially knowing the buildings were built in the 1700's and are still standing today.
Court House
Court Yard


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Love Park

LOVE Park, located in Philadelphia, was built in the 1960s.
Around the 1980s the park became famous for skateboarders because the way the park was designed.  With curving stairs and ledges, is perfect for the sport.  
In the early 2000s, the city banned skateboarding in LOVE park.
Even with the ban, I saw plenty of kids skateboarding the day we visited the park.
(I'm in the middle of the group, with my sunglasses on).

Normally LOVE park has gorgeous fountain behind the 'LOVE' sign, but it gets turned off when the city puts up the Christmas tree.  They were putting it up the day we were there.
Close to LOVE Park is a courtyard filled with HUGE game pieces. 
I don't know if this is unique to Philadelphia, but it's pretty cool!

In front of LOVE park is Philadelphia's City Hall.  On top of the building is a statue of Pennsylvania's founder, William Penn. Until 1908, this building was the tallest in Pennsylvania.
The William Penn Statue is gorgeous, but the day we were there was a cloudy, overcast day and I couldn't get a good photo of it.

Tid Bit of history:  Contrary to belief Pennsylvania was named after William Penn by King Charles II and not Penn himself.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How Brave are You?

I am surrounded by little children all day, so is it surprising the first image that comes to my mind when thinking of bravery is the Disney movie 'Brave'?  If you haven't seen it, you should.  It's one of my favorite Disney movies.

When I think of being brave, I think of a soldier placing himself in danger to protect our country.  I think of a police officer putting himself in the line of fire to make society feel safe.  I think of a fire fighter putting out fires to save our homes and lives.  These men and women do things that a lot of us are afraid to do.

Then there are others who are brave, just because it's the right thing to do.  One story of bravery puts me in tears every time I think of it.  A 27-year old Sandy Hook teacher, Victoria Soto, sacrificed her life when she hid her students in a closet to protect them from crazed gunman, Adam Lanza. When Lanza entered her classroom, she told him that the students were in the gym. The terrified kids started running from the closet and Lanza began shooting. Soto threw herself in front of the children and was killed. The last moments of her life were spent protecting her young students by using her body as a shield against bullets from the deranged madman's gun.

Then there are smaller types of bravery.  For instance I am brave enough:
  • to catch a stink bug but FREAK when I see a spider.  
  • to tour colleges even though I am not ready to let my son go.
  • to get on fast rides at an amusement park, but refuse to go on a roller coaster.
  • to fly in an airplane even though I am terrified of heights.
  • to speak in public, but hate to confront someone one-on-one
  • to forgive even when I've been emotionally hurt.
  • to let my son go to senior week after high school graduation... 
    • okay, maybe not.  I'll be worried the entire time he's gone.
  • to venture into my teenage son's bedroom/bathroom AND clean it!!

What fears have you been brave enough to conquer?
Thanks to our host, Rory Bory at Time Out For Mom.
Are you brave enough to join us during our weekly Tuesday Coffee Chat?


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Philadelphia Art Museum

The Art Museum in Philadelphia is impressive. It looks like a Greek Parthenon was placed at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Highway. The detail on the building is amazing!

The school that Todd teaches at hosted an exchange program with 10 girls from England.  We took the British girls and their American hosts to a day trip in Philadelphia.
The view looking from the museum into Philadelphia is breath-taking.  Especially during the fall months when the leaves are changing colors.
I had Todd take a picture of me with the Moose statue.  For many years we called our youngest son "Moose" until he rebelled at 13 years old and told us he didn't like his nickname anymore.  I still feel sentimental when I see a Moose.
For those who know the movie "Rocky", starring Sylvester Stalone.  The movie is based upon the real life of boxer, Robert "Rocky" Balboa,  A famous scene in the movie shows "Rocky" running up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.  The statue used to be at the top of the steps. It was moved a few years ago to the bottom when some stuffy, well-to-do folks said the statue was not "art".  


We didn't have time to explore the museum (only to use the bathroom). 
It was cold, but beautiful day to spend in Philadelphia.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Peppercorn Pork (with dijon-cider sauce)

I tried this last night and it turned out really well.

10 oz. pork tenderloin (cut into four 2" thinkc medallions)
~ 1 tbsp whole peppercorn, crushed 
~ 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
~ 1 tbsp minced shallots
 ~ 2 tsp tomato paste 
~ 1/4c dry white wine 
~ 1c apple juice 
~ 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 
~ 1 tbsp dijon mustard
 ~ salt to taste

Dredge on side of pork in peppercorns. Heat 1 tbsp oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add medallions, pepper-side down, and saute until brown, about 3 minutes. Turn medallions and continue cooking until pork reaches an internal temp of 145 degrees. (about 6 more minutes). Transfer medallions to a plate and tent them with foil, and let them rest.

Saute shallots and tomato paste in remaining 1 tbsp oil in same skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Deglaze pan with wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Increase to high heat, add apple juice and vinegar, simmer until reduced to 1/3c. Whisk in mustard and season with salt.

Serve pork with sauce ontop.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Lasagna Rolls

2 tbsp unsalted butter ~ 4 tsps all-purpose flour ~ 1 1/4 cups whole milk ~ 1/4 tsp salt ~ 1/8 tsp pepper ~ pinch ground nutmeg

1 (15oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese ~ 1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry ~ 1 cup plus 2 tbsp grated Parmesan ~ 1 large egg, beaten to blend ~ 3/4 tsp salt, plus more for salting water ~ 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper ~ 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil ~ 12 uncooked lasagna noodles ~ 2 cups marinara sauce ~ 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4oz)

To make the sauce: Melt the utter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk.  Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the béchamel sauce.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.  Add a tbsp or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite.  Drain.  Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish.  Pour the béchamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.  ay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tbsp of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle.  Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll.

Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the béchamel sauce in the dish.  Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.

Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls.  Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tbsp of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls.

Cover tightly with foil.  Bake until heated through and the sauce bubble, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Let stand for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

4-6 large croissants
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar
whipped cream

  • Whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla.
  • Cut the croissants into halves horizontally.  Then dip them into the egg mixture, coating well.
  • Cook the croissants on a large non-stick surface until golden brown, making sure to flip half way through (about 2 minutes on each side).

Fresh Strawberry Syrup
1 lb fresh strawberries (1 clamshell)
1/2 - 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Cut the strawberries into quarters, and add them to a saucepan with the sugar (add the sugar to taste).
  • Cook on low-medium heat until the mixture is a syrup like consistency, and the strawberries are cooked.
  • At this point you can leave the syrup chunky, or puree it. 

Let's eat!
Top the croissant french toast with whipped cream, a little powdered sugar and the strawberry syrup!  Delish!!