Leftover Chicken

Italian chicken soup

Yes, we have returned to the school schedule along with many families across the country. It is the time of year when I go from minimal attempts at making my family dinner to hardly ever. I would be OK with cereal and peanut butter every night; TheRoomDad is not. It is perplexing to him the lack of interest I have for preparing food during the school year. Preparing meals is such a time suck, and I am not up for it after a day of teaching.

There is a quick meal that I will cook when I have the ingredients. My kids love the recipe I have for Italian Chicken Soup. It is a lot like chicken noodle soup but with a twist. Any time we have a leftover cooked chicken breast, there is a good chance I am making Italian Chicken Soup for an easy weeknight dinner.


  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 2 t. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper
  • 6 c. canned chicken broth
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced (optional)
  • ~9-oz. pasta (egg noodles, mini penne, mini bow ties, macaroni…)
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, diced


  • Heat oil in large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, onion, carrot, garlic basil, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Saute until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add broth.
  • Cover pot and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Add zucchini (if using), cover, and simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Add pasta and boil until pasta is tender.
  • Add chicken and cook until heated through about 1 more minute.
  • Season soup to taste with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls, and serve.


  • You can replace the zucchini with yellow squash (and probably celery, but I have not tried it). Red bell pepper can be replaced with green bell pepper.
  • The original recipe called for cheese ravioli, but my family likes non-stuffed pasta better.
  • The recipes makes 4-5 servings, so we usually don’t have many leftovers.

Italian chicken soup close

Do This! Not That… (a Blog Hop and Giveaway)

do this not that header

If you are not back at school yet, it is coming at you fast. My students (and my own children) start next week. I will admit that I have never caught myself skipping to my classroom door come the first day of school, but this year I am particularly draggy. I do not want to return to the school year routine yet. In order to make the transition from summer mode to school mode a little easier for families, I have some “managing school life” organizational thoughts.

Do This!

  • You know all of those handouts teachers give to families at the beginning of the year with critical information like the school calendar, school carpool protocol, and weekly test schedules? Post it in a high traffic area at your house in plain view. As a teacher, I have started adding a strip of magnet tape to the back of our classroom information handout, so parents can stick the packet of information to the kitchen refrigerator.

class handbook with magnet

  • Keep a month-at-a-glance calendar. I have one on my teacher desk as well as above my computer at home. As best I can, I fill in important dates like doctor appointments, sports practices, game schedules, and school holidays on my home calendar. On my school calendar, I add student birthdays, faculty meeting days, parent meetings, and short lesson plans. I also have a laminated calendar page on one of my main classroom bulletin boards. It is one of those Bulletin Board Calendar Pages teachers use with lower grades. I use dry erase markers to fill in test dates and project deadlines in the blank squares. At the end of the month, we erase and start over. I know many people are paperless or store all calendar information on their phones these days, but it benefits everyone in the family to have a hard copy of upcoming events posted in an easy to see location.

month at a glance calendar

Not That…

  • Teachers, avoid presenting parents with a stuffed pocket folder containing all of the school and teacher information at your open house. Yes, it makes it easy for families to leave the classroom with all of the papers together, but they will stay in the folder forever never to be viewed again. To prove it, I am sharing a photo of the dusty pile of old papers that sits on a shelf near my computer. See those three pocket folders at the top of the pile? I am embarrassed to admit those are class information materials from the past three years. There is probably some permission slip in there I need to sign, and I am a teacher– I should know better! Parents, if your child’s teacher heeds my advice and hands you separate or loose papers, do NOT go home and stuff the papers into a pocket folder and shove it on the dump shelf. Pull the essential information about contacting the teacher, lunch, dismissal, and the school calendar, and post it on your refrigerator, bulletin board, or other area in your home that people visit on a regular basis.

pocket folder with school material


Still shopping for school? To help with any back to school supplies you need (or to treat yourself to something fun), I am giving away a $20 Amazon gift card. CLICK HERE to go to my Rafflecopter giveaway page to enter. Giveaway ends August 16, 2015 at midnight.


If you continue through the blog hop, you can enter to win more prizes and grab some great back to school ideas for teachers and students. Click the next stop button to visit The Pensive Sloth.

do this not that next stop

Keep hopping to The Lesson Deli to enter the giveaway there for the chance to win a $100 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card.

Back to School Book List

spy school

You would think after all of my first days of school that I would not get that sinking feeling in my stomach when it is time to begin the school year again; I should be a first day of school expert. But I get the dark, scary feeling. Every year. My back-to-school-blues started about a week ago when we arrived home from our mini family vacation, and the box with the uniform shirts I had ordered for Mr. Star Wars was on the front porch.

Because so many of us experience the same emotions on the first day of school, there are a lot of good chapter books about starting school. And, it does not matter if you are returning to the same school or starting a new school altogether. We all get nervous. Reading about a character who has the same worries you do helps make the transition to the new classroom a little easier. Is there somebody at your house worried about your first day of school? Try a few of these titles to help ease the anxiety.

fourteenth goldfish

  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
  • Julia and the Art of Practical Travel by Lesley M. M. Blume (at the end)
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
  • Superfudge by Judy Blume (beware the Santa Claus reveal)
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (April character)
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
  • Hound Dog True by Linda Urban
  • Midnight for Charlie Bone Jenny Nimmo
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett (Sherlock Files series)
  • Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
  • The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (the grandfather)
  • Maggie Malone and the Mostly Magical Boots by Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Tarantula Shoes by Tom Birdseye
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea (Jessica character)
  • Knightly Academy by Violet Haberdasher


Teacher Emergency Kit Giveaway Winner

BTS teacher kit giveaway winner 2015

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway for two Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits.

Congratulations to the winner, Laura S! Laura, please look for an e-mail from me, so I can get your kits in the mail to you promptly.

For those who did not win, it is easy to make your own Teacher Emergency Kits. Find a small zippered bag (like a cosmetics bag), a little box with compartments (like a bead box from Michael’s Crafts), or a simple gift bag and fill with items that would be helpful to have in your desk or bag that would not be readily available at school.

  • travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • aspirin
  • mints
  • dental floss
  • cough drops
  • Sharpie pen
  • safety pins
  • travel comb
  • chapstick
  • quarters (for the soda machine)
  • hair ties or clips
  • Band-aids
  • Tide to go stick
  • travel sized hand lotion
  • Smart phone charger

2015 Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit Giveaway

teacher emergency kit giveaway 2 bagsOne Lucky Winner Will Receive TWO Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits!

I am giving away two (2) Teacher Emergency Kits to one (1) lucky winner! You can keep one kit and give one to a teacher friend (or make two teachers, friends, co-workers, neighbors… super happy and give both as gifts). Click HERE to enter. Giveaway ends this Friday, July 31 at midnight (EST). Shipping addresses must be within the USA or Canada.

Winner will receive 2 cloth pouches and emergency kit contents. Each kit contains a $10 Starbucks giftcard, travel sized sewing kit, travel sized Aquaphor, travel sized Advil, Band-aids, and peppermints. See this BLOG POST for more details about the Teacher Emergency Kits.

teacher emergency kit giveaway full viewClick this RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY LINK and follow me on various social media and/or comment on this blog post to be entered to win!

teacher emergency kit giveaway open bag