Teachers Toolbox

Today is the first of September.  Many Public and Private schools are back in session, and from all I see on message boards and across Social Media sites, many Homeschoolers are back to the books as well.

I just wanted to remind you of an amazing resource out there for homeschool families.

This month’s subject is Struggling Readers, please be sure to stop by and check out all the great information other homeschoolers have gathered to help you in this area.

The menu this month is completely FULL of Crock pot recipes to help ease your load with easy to prepare, family friendly meals.

All this is free to those who already subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Click on the Toolbox above to get your subscription today!


BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Yet another crock pot recipe to bring your way.  September is back to school for nearly everyone so it is nice to have a few easy recipes that can cook all day and free you up to focus on other things. Even for those whose school days are long past….  It is still nice to come home to a house full of delicious aromas and know that all the hard part of cooking has been done.


You will need

a hunk of meat…  I use chuck roast or arm roast.


a 12 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce  ( or in my case, whichever is on sale for 98 cents.)


Place it in your slow cooker and let it simmer on low all day (8 hours).  If you forgot that you had to feed your family dinner until you remembered at lunch  ( don’t laugh… this happens to me…)  crank it up to High and let it go for about 5 hours.

Shred the meat and return to the sauce, and serve on some sort of roll.


This is a perfect time to use left over hamburger or hot dog rolls.  You could use hoagie rolls or onion rolls or plain ole’ regular bread.  Use what you have. Be creative.


See, we used a plain ole’ hot dog bun that was in the freezer from the last big cook out we had here. 


Enjoy and Happy Eating!

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Chili Verde

This meal is a staple in this house.  I get teased for how often I recommend it to people, but really, I can’t think of anything easier than this recipe.

Out of curiosity I went and searched the name Chili Verde, to see how complicated other people are making it.  I found one that was over 20 ingredients!  Who has time for that?  Not this girl.

So welcome to my easy recipe for it. 

1 package pork butt or pork shoulder roast.  ( where I live they have a cut of pork in the store called carnitas.  I buy this cut often because it is half the cost of a shoulder roast )

1 jar of your favorite green salsa.

That is all.


put both in a crock pot, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on High for 4-6.  Shred the meat and eat.

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We usually serve it on tostada shells or tortillas, with our favorite taco fixings.



It tastes great and feeds an army.  If you have a smaller family freeze some of the portions for a later time in the month when you have a hectic day. 

Happy Eating!

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salsa chicken

Sometimes I am teased for my cooking…. not in that “Oh my goodness I can never eat there again”, sort of way, but in a “how in the world did you think of making THAT? ” kind of way.  I often throw things together, I rarely measure things out with spoons and cups….  I eyeball everything and taste as I go.

…..this anomaly boggles the minds of my friends.

I just want everyone to know that most of my meals are NOT born out of some amazing, chef-like, next food network star sort of ability to just piece flavors together. Nor do I sit and pour over cookbooks to get just the perfect recipe.    …. most of my recipes are born from desperation.  The “oh man, I have no idea what is for dinner, it is 2 pm, and there is absolutely nothing quick to cook.”  That kind of desperation is what I am talking about.

I have found that the key to becoming a great desperation cook is buying whole food staples.  If you don’t ever have rice on hand, or chicken in the freezer…. or a bag or two of noodles and some tomatoes and pepperoni, maybe, if you don’t buy onions, celery and carrots…..you are going open the fridge and think there is nothing for dinner.   But for me…. all those things up there are two dinners and a side dish.

Thursday night I needed some way to dress up a chicken.  I didn’t want to bake it… because, well, I don’t have air conditioning and I live where it is 1000 degrees outside, which makes it about 900 degrees inside my house, without the oven on, so,…the oven was staying OFF!

Since I don’t have a roaster pan, the next logical choice is the crock…. so out it comes.  Next I am on to finding a sauce.  I haven’t been to the store in over a week, and before that, in over 3 weeks.  So really there is nothing in there but condiments and garden veggies…. I look through the fridge with that…. hmmmmmm sort of face. I open and close the door a few times hoping that something will appear in there miraculously.

I zeroed in on the salsa in the door… hmmm not enough. Oh wait! I have some bottles of taco sauce and that will stretch the salsa a bit to make a sauce for the whole family to have with the chicken.  Wa~la dinner was born.

For Salsa Chicken……You will need:

1 whole chicken OR enough of the boneless skinless parts of your choice to feed your crew

1 jar of salsa (or in my case a half bottle of salsa and whatever else you find)

1/2 teaspoon of Salt

A few twirls of the pepper grinder

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook on High for 2-4 hours if meat is thawed.  Cook on low for 5 hours if chicken is frozen.

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So I salted and peppered and garlic-ed my bird. Covered it with the Green and Red Taco Sauce, and the Salsa…. and cranked it up to high, it was nearly two p.m. and dinner was breathing down my neck.

At 4 p.m. I turned the chicken down to low, and started the rice.

1 16 ounce bag of brown rice

5 1/2 cups of water

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 cups of celery chopped

1 cup of shredded carrots

1/4 cup of chopped onion

Bring water to a boil, add other ingredients, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 min or until water is absorbed.

The chicken. You might notice that it is whole, you know, the WITH bones kind.  In the land of fast food, I realize that some people may not even know what to do with a whole bird.  I also understand that maybe not all moms were like mine and made a whole chicken slathered in French dressing, Every. Single. Wednesday night of my youth….. and this fact alone makes me better versed than most on how to carve a chicken.

It is possible your mom only bought chicken pieces all your life…..and if you someday find yourself in possession of a whole bird and you are headed for a panic attack… fear not.  There are tutorials, for everything, on YouTube.  Here is one I liked for learning how to carve a bird.  (A note to the newbies.  It is easier to do the first few times on a cooked chicken!)

Ok… where was I?  Oh yeah, finishing the chicken…..

So, I took the chicken out of the crock and carved it up and put it back in the sauce while the rice finished off.  To plate, I put the rice on the bottom, two more turns of the pepper mill, and then two to three spoonful’s of the salsa, and the chicken.

And here is the end result.



Topped with a bit of green tomato and fresh grated carrot…..  it was quite delicious for a thrown together dinner.


Happy eating!

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