My daughter had her EXPLORE test this morning. Because she is in Virtual School we had to drive to a town about 40 minutes away for her to take the test. This is her first year in Virtual School so it has been a huge learning curve for us. She was homeschooled in New York State for one year before we moved to Michigan. Things are VERY different here.
In New York there are no schools of choice. You go to the district you live in unless you pay to go to another district or to private school. The amount varies by district but on average is at least $10,000 in the area we lived in, to go to a district other than your own, and private high schools can run $15,000+.
There are no Virtual Schools in New York. In Michigan my daughter can earn a Michigan high school diploma by attending on-line charter school classes. Several districts offer this option but we chose to go with a charter school for her because to the flexibility in scheduling. She tended to miss quite a bit of school due to her dancing in competitions and personal health issues that she needs to take care of. This school offered us the chance to schedule around lessons and competitions so we decided to try it for one year.
Homeschool regulations are different in Michigan. In New York you report to your local school district as a homeschooler. They approve your year plans and curriculum. Some districts are much stricter than others. You must turn in quarterly reports on what your child has completed during the semester. Every other year your child must take the New York State tests or another test approved by your school district. This is at your expense. When we started looking into Michigan regulations on homeschooling they were very freeing but we really decided working towards a state diploma was the best option for my daughter this year. Things may change in the future but for this year….
So, she took the EXPLORE test today. It is the precursor to the ACT test she will take next year. Three hours of testing (she is allowed extra time to complete the tests) and we shall see what happens for next year. I always thought it would be easier as the kids grew up but the stakes seem higher as they move up in the grades. Preparing for SATs and ACTs, good grades for college, volunteering at the “right” places, having well-rounded outside interests, who knew it would be so stressful in 9th grade starting to plan for 12th grade?
But, with that we make the jump to dinner. Last night was a busy night as my daughter had dance class at 5:45 pm, it takes about an hour to get there, and my son had Science Olympiad at 5:30 pm. Which meant no one was going to be at the same place at the same time until at least 8:00 pm. So, it was a To-Go dinner night.
To-Go dinners are what I make to avoid the fast food drive thru on nights like this. I have divided dishes that I use for the main course, vegetable or salad that everyone can take in the car with them. Add a water bottle and we are ready to go! No, fast food.
I even reworked this recipe to make it without the 2 cans of cream of soup that it originally called for. My favorite part was that I made it in the morning and put it in the refrigerator until 1 hour before we were getting ready to leave so that the meal was hot and ready to go in the containers for the kids.
My children actually really liked this dish. I made it without any of the canned soups that it called for and I still thought it was a bit on the salty side but everyone else disagreed with me. Next time I may work on making the dish without the prepared stuffing mix and use panko and spices instead to lower the sodium content.
For my mostly gluten-free son I made his roux with the Pillsbury Flour blend and gluten-free stuffing mix.
I served this with a side of rice, green beans and red pepper strips.
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. chicken cut into tenders or chunks
- 8 oz sliced Swiss cheese
- 8 TBSP butter, divided
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1 cup fat-free half and half
- 1 cup chicken stock, low-sodium
- 1/2 box of stuffing mix
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Place the chicken in the bottom of the pan evenly spread out over the bottom of the pan.
- Lay the Swiss cheese slices over the top of the chicken to cover the entire pan.
- In a saucepan melt 6 TBSP butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and stir 1-2 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden in color.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in half and half and chicken stock to the flour mixture. Return to heat and stir until smooth. Bring to a low simmer, do not boil, and continue to stir as the mixture thickens to the correct consistency of a thick cream sauce.
- Remove pan from heat and cream sauce evenly over the cheese.
- Sprinkle 1/2 of the stuffing mix over the top of the cream sauce. Melt the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and pour over the stuffing mix.
- Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until chicken is done and topping is brown and crispy.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Can be served over rice or noodles or on its own.