Genius Hour Cooking Week 5: Dessert Duo

My time as a Genius Hour Chef is coming to an end. For my last post, I wanted to do something sweet and fun, but also challenging. I considered baking cookies or a cake, but I had done that before and wanted something new. So, per usual, I started my search on Pinterest. I simply typed in the search bar “desserts” and thousands of links popped up. As I scrolled through, I landed on Frozen Hot Chocolate. This seemed like an odd concept to me so I opened the tab, and it seemed delicious. The only issue was, the recipe was easy and straight forward, so I decided to make something to go with it. As I continued to scroll, the picture of a chocolate crepe caught my eye. I immediately clicked on it, and decided that I would be making crepes with a frozen hot chocolate on the side.

To begin, I wrote down a grocery list of all the items I needed to get. Listed below are the ingredients for both recipes:

Frozen Hot Chocolate

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 4 packets of Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Shavings
    • I used a bar of Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate and a vegetable peeler to get mine.


Nutella-Stuffed Crepes

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter
  • Any additional ingredients of your choosing – I added strawberries and peanut butter to mine


Once I gathered my ingredients from Kroger and my pantry, I started with the Frozen Hot Chocolate. I chose to do this first because I did not want my crepes to get cold while I made the Frozen Hot Chocolate. The instructions for this were simple. I grabbed a blender, and mixed together the ice, milk, and hot chocolate packets. I put the blender on level 2 speed (whip) and blended it until it had a thick-liquid consistency. Once it looked right, I took a spoon and tasted it to find that it was delicious. I then poured it into 2 cups, and had a little to spare. I topped them off with whip cream and chocolate shavings that I did myself with a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar.


After I had my Frozen Hot Chocolate poured, I began on the Nutella-Stuffed Crepes. These were more challenging than I expected them to be, but I learned a lot from the process and had fun making them. In a large mixing bowl, I cracked my 6 eggs and beat them together. I beat them before adding the dry ingredients so that it would be easier to mix everything together. This is a technique my dad taught me over Thanksgiving break when I helped him cook. Next, I added the flour, sugar, and salt into the mix. With a metal whisk, I mixed them together until it formed a batter-like consistency. The next step is to add the milk. I was caught off guard at how much milk it told me to use because 4 cups is a good bit compared to the size of the current batter. The instructions told me to pour in about 1/2 cup at a time and mix it together. I tried to emulate my grandma, an amazing cook, when doing this so in one hand I had the whisk and in the other I poured the milk. I stirred the batter as the milk went in so that it would mix completely. When all of the milk had been poured in, the batter was very much a liquid, soup-like mixture. I was not sure if this was correct, but I just continued to work. I melted 1/4 cup of butter in the microwave for 25 seconds on 8-powered heat. When it was finished, I took it out and completely mixed it before pouring it in and stirring vigorously for at least 1 minute.


Now that my batter was prepared, I was ready to begin the crepes on the stove. I took a non-stick skillet and placed it on a burner at medium to high heat. The recipe instructed me to use a ladle to scoop the batter, but I did not have one. I chose to use a 1/4 measuring cup because the instructions tell you to use less batter than you would expect. I took a scoop of batter and dropped it on the skillet at an angle. Then, I turned my wrist to allow the batter to cover the skillet.dsc_0320 DSC_0324.JPGI was unsure about how long to leave my batter on the spatula before flipping it so I guessed when I thought it was ready. I took a rubber spatula and tried to flip it, but it was not very successful. I took a step back, and then googled “how to make the perfect crepe”.

An article on the William Sonoma blog said that I should leave it on the skillet for about 1 minute and then using a thin spatula, flip the crepe. In addition, the blog suggested greasing the pan before putting batter on it to allow the flip to go smoothly. Once I tried these skills, I finally had made a decent crepe. The batter made up to about 35 crepes, so I decided to make a few more before filling them. DSC_0322.JPGDSC_0331.JPG

After I had made about 5 crepes, it was time to fill them. Something I took in to consideration before I started however, was plating. “Plating” is a term that I learned from watching the Food Network a lot recently. I enjoy shows such as Kids Baking Championship, Chopped, and Chopped Junior. In these shows, the judges will score them based on the taste of the food and the presentation of it, also known as the plating. It is important to make food look aesthetically pleasing when presenting it to others, so I researched a few tips on how to do that.

In the article, Plate Your Food Like a Pro, I learned about using texture and white space. I imagined the shapes I wanted the crepes to lay in, and how I wanted to garnish them. So, I grabbed some nutella, peanut butter and sliced strawberries, and began. I estimated each time about how much to put inside. For fillings like these, I believe it is all about personal likings of the ingredients that determines how much you want to put in. Once I had all of the crepes laid nicely on my plate, I drizzled chocolate sauce on top. I then took a fork and sifted powdered sugar on top of the chocolate sauce, and added a few strawberries in the middle to give it an extra touch. DSC_0334.JPGDSC_0348.JPGDSC_0344.JPGDSC_0348.JPG

Cooking these crepes turned out to be really fun. My friends saw me doing it, and asked if they could try to. My friend Sarah actually ended up being great at getting the crepes perfectly cooked. She had so much fun with it, she made about 10! My other friend, Mekayla, ended up having fun filling them. She tried all different types of ingredients like bananas, almonds and nuts. We all decided this was probably the best dessert we had made in our house yet. DSC_0336.JPGDSC_0341.JPG

I learned a good bit of skill from working with the crepes. I used the process of trial and error while making them, and found that my work was not always going to be perfect, but if I kept trying they would get better. I also made use of my resources and constructivism in this project by using what I had learned from the Food Network. After watching so many shows, I had an idea of how to do things like plating. I would definitely recommend learning to make crepes to anyone. It was not only delicious, but a great way to bond with my roommates. After I finished, we all sat down and ate them, and drank our frozen hot chocolate with it. It was a great learning experience for me, and probably my favorite Genius Hour yet.DSC_0351.JPG






Genius Hour Cooking Week 4: Homemade Baked Potato Chips

This week for my genius hour post, I wanted to cook something that would be a good snack to serve as an appetizer or a side dish for a meal. I wanted something quick, healthy, but also yummy that was versatile for different meals. I decided cooking my own potato chips would be the perfect match.

I found the recipe that I planned to use on Tasty, a popular Facebook cooking page run by Buzzfeed. Tasty shares multiple recipes every week and demonstrates them in a video so you can watch how each item is made. The video that I used gave four different recipes for four different flavors of potato chips called “Baked Potato Chips 4 Ways“. I chose to try the Barbecue flavor and the Ranch flavor.


The ingredients I used are listed below:

Barbecue Chips:

  •  3 Gold Potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder

Ranch Chips:

  • 3 Gold Potatoes
  • 1 packet of Ranch Mix
  • 1/4 cup Chives
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper

To begin, I preheated the oven to 350º. Next, I washed 6 gold potatoes and placed them to the side to dry. Starting with the barbecue chips, I set aside three potatoes and started with the others. I was ready to slice the potatoes, but wanted to use the proper technique. I found a video on YouTube called How-To: Thinly Sliced Potatoes, where I learned a new skill. For this, I sliced off a portion of the side of the potato, and then placed it with that side down to keep the potato steady. This allowed me to create proportional slices.


Once I had thinly sliced 3 potatoes, I threw them in a bowl and tossed the dry ingredients and the olive oil on top. With a spatula, I mixed them together and made sure that each slice of potato had a reasonable amount of barbecue flavoring.


Next I did the same process with the ranch chips. On a greased cooking sheet, I placed the chips down close, but giving them a little room surrounding them. I placed them in the oven for 35 minutes, and cleaned up while I waited. dsc_0210

Once the 35 minutes was up, I pulled the chips out of the oven to find they had over-cooked a tad. This could have been because I preheated the oven very early compared to when I put the chips in. Luckily, there were quite a few chips that survived.


I let the chips cool off, and then tried my first one. It was the perfect baked potato chip because it was crisp, but chewy in the middle. The flavoring on the barbecue chips was a little strong, however the ranch chips turned out perfectly. This baking process was a great learning experience for me because I was able to learn from my mistakes. I also was able to learn new skills when slicing and mixing that I can use in the future. I would recommend these chips to anyone who wants a healthier alternative to processed chips, or to anyone looking for a gourmet chip for entertaining. I will definitely try these again!





Reflection: Google Kool-aid Lesson Plan

Over the course of the past two weeks, two of my classmates, Divya and Haley, and I have been working on a lesson plan for a class of second grade students. The assignment given to us was to create a plan with four sections, for any grade, for any subject provided. The three of us wanted to think outside of the box so we chose second grate art. The four sections we had to cover were an opener, a mini-lesson, a work period, and a closer. Below, I will explain our lesson, “Geometric and Organic Shapes in Art”.

In our opener, we wanted to do something to draw the attention in to what we would be discussing. Haley remembered using a tool called “Tangrams” in school when she was younger, and thought it would be perfect to assist in learning about the geometric shapes. This is a computer program that allows students to think and using trial and error throughout the process. The program gives you a shape, with other geometric shapes that you have to fill it in with. This requires the student to turn the shapes and place them in different ways in order to advance to the next level. Tangrams is a great opener, because it allows us to educate the students on the difference between geometric and organic shapes, and it allows them to become involved with the lesson immediately.

Next for our mini-lesson, we decided to bring in a collaborative and constructive piece to teach about organic and geometric shapes. Students will pair up into groups of two and will be given a blind fold. Then student 1 will blindfold themselves, while student 2 looks at the screen. We will put an image on the screen that only student 2 can see, and student 2 will describe it to student 1. Student 1 must use prior knowledge of the shapes being described and must attempt to draw the image. After student 1 has finished, we will switch the blindfolds, and student 2 will now draw. After, we will look at the pictures drawn and discuss how they were able to create these drawings using prior knowledge of these shapes.

Coming up after the mini-lesson is the work period. In this time, students will have already downloaded the app “Let’s Learn How to Draw” from the app store. This app gives users the opportunity to draw and color with a guide. We will have students choose the option to draw a monster of their choosing. Using organic shapes, the monster will be created, and after we will ask the students to fill the monster in, using geometric shapes. The students will then name their monster and share with the class. This will show the knowledge they have gained through learning about geometric and organic shapes in the class.

Finally, we will use a video to tie the lesson together in the closer. Divya found a video on YouTube called Geometric and Organic Shapes in Architecture. This video helps explain the topics that we discussed prior. It uses real life things to show where these sorts of shapes can be found around our world. Once the video is over, we will open up the floor for discussion and questions regarding the topic.

For us, this project gave us the opportunity to use technology in teaching. We combined a multitude of tools and resources such as Tangram, Google Slides, apps from the app store, and YouTube to put together our presentation. In this process, we also learned about creating a lesson plan for students based on course criteria. We discovered different requirements that we needed to fulfill, and we had to brainstorm to decide how we would do so. This project was insightful and fun, and I enjoyed learning about this.



Genius Hour Week 3: Vegetarian Cauliflower Pizza

This week for my Genius Hour post, I wanted to try something a little bit uncommon for myself. Growing up with a dad from Texas who loves to cool and a brother who adores ribs, I have always been partial to meat. In my eyes, a nice burger is all I need to get me through a bad day. However, this week I went out of my norms and tried something new, something vegetarian. This week for my meal, I made cauliflower pizza crust and paired it with an assortment of vegetables. The time it took to make it was longer than usual, however it was delicious so I did not mind.

I always knew it was possible to make cauliflower pizza, however I needed a recipe to give me the steps. I found this one on Pinterest that claimed to be “the BEST cauliflower pizza recipe” so I gave it a try.

As always, my first step was to gather my ingredients from Kroger.


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal (can be found in organic section)

After I got all that I needed, I came home and started by turning my oven on to 450°. I did this first so that I could put my baking sheet in the oven to heat up while I prepared my food so that it would be warm when I put the dough on it to cook.

Next, I got out my food processor and began to prepare the cauliflower. I cut the florets off of the head of cauliflower, removing the stems, and placed them into the food processor. Because my food processor is small, I had to do this about seven times, placing the cauliflower into a bowl after each round. The cauliflower is supposed to look like snow flakes at this point, and there should be about 3 cups of cauliflower to create your pizza.


Next, take the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, and heat it in the microwave for 4 minutes, covering the bowl with a small plate. Once it is warmed up, lay out a dish towel on top of a cutting board or hard surface, and dump the bowl of cauliflower on top. Wrap the cauliflower in the towel, and allow it to cool.


While the cauliflower is cooling, you can prepare the rest of your dough. Take the dry ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. Once sifted together, add the egg and mix with your hands.


After mixing the dry ingredients and the egg. Take the cauliflower in the towel and ring it out of the sink. It is important to get as much water out as possible so that the crust forms to the perfect texture. After you ring it out, mix it in with the other ingredients using your hands and create a ball of dough.


In the next step, remove the cooking sheet from the oven. On a cutting board, lay a piece of parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. Place the dough on top of the parchment paper and form it into a pizza shape. Make sure to keep it tight and press out any air bubbles.


Once the pizza is shaped, lift the parchment paper onto the cooking sheet, and place it in the oven for about 8 minutes. This will allow your crust to bake before adding the toppings. Personally, I do not love tomato sauce so I chose to make a three-cheese white pizza using mozzarella, parmesan, and feta cheese. dsc_0183

When the pizza was done baking, I pulled it out and added olive oil on top. I then sprinkled the cheeses on top with a dash of salt and pepper. After, I placed it back in the oven for 6 minutes, or until it was browned and the cheese was melted. Once it looked ready, I pulled it out to cool while I prepared some vegetables I was reheating from the night before.


After the vegetables were heated, I was ready to eat. This pizza was the perfect size for me, and even allowed for two left over slices that I heated up on the stove the next day. Although it was more challenging to make, it was definitely worth it. I would recommend this pizza to anyone looking for a healthier option to regular pizza. It had great texture, and tasted pretty close to the real deal!




I am happy that I was able to share this delightful dish on my blog. It was perfect for a nice, fall day while I ate on my back porch. I can’t wait to try this again, but maybe with some extra toppings next time.




Reflection: BYOD

BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. This means that in plenty of schools across the country, students are being encouraged to bring their own personal tablets, laptops, smartphones, and other technology for use at school. Why you may ask? Well there are a few reasons including finances and the world we live in today. People are constantly pushing each other to the next level with new discoveries and inventions, which often requires us to keep up with the times. BYOD does have benefits, but with benefits there are also challenges. This reflection is to explore the purposes, benefits, and challenges behind the new Bring Your Own Device teaching style.

Bring Your Own Device is a way for students and classrooms to take advantage of the resources they have been surrounded by for so many years now. All students at some point have used a computer and a phone, and know how to access technology. BYOD allows for students to think in different ways, rather than just by studying a textbook. It is always there, yet “constantly changing, requiring independent learners with new skills for changing work environments.” (K12 BluePrint) BYOD is simply just a way to advance our teaching and learning skills to higher levels than in the past.

Benefits of BYOD include multiple areas that can benefit in more ways than one. One example is that BYOD allows collaborative learning through online discussion posts, shared powerpoints, and educational websites. This factors in to meaningful learning and is important because it gives students a way to see different perspectives. Another benefit is it reduces costs and pressures of the school to have updated technology and computers for student use. If the device is brought and paid for by the students, the school is free to use their money in more dire areas. BYOD also can benefit from the creativity it allows students. An example of this was seen in our class on Tuesday when each one of us was to find apps that helped students learn. This proved that there are so many tools out their that BYOD lets students and teachers take advantage of to promote education and understanding.

Challenges that BYOD faces deal with more technical issues such as privacy, protection, and wifi connection. In education however, student engagement is important to consider when using BYOD. I have ADD so using a device for me in class can sometimes be difficult, especially when I don’t take my medicine. For students with this same issue that are not being treated, BYOD may be very challenging because there are so many other things you can be doing on your device. A way I found to overcome this challenge is through the app you can download to your computer called “Self Control”. Self Control allows you to set a timed blocker on anything that could potentially distract you, and there is no way to turn it off. This helps when I need to focus and I am on my computer. Another challenge to look at would be costs of families. In some areas, families do not have the money to pay for devices, so this could be unfair to these students who want the same education.

A personal experience I have had with BYOD goes back to the sixth grade when I attended a private school in Atlanta. At my school, students were required to have an iPod Touch to bring to school. They then required us to download certain apps to enhance our learning in multiple areas. In theory this is a good idea to put the school in front of others, but in reality some families did not feel the desire to buy their child a brand new iPod in order to use the Bible app when they could just bring a Bible to school. As a sixth grader, I thought it was really cool, but as a twenty-year old looking back, it seems as if it was not the best choice my school could have made.

So overall, do I agree with BYOD? In some ways. I think it is beneficial when the students are mature enough to handle using the program how it was designed. It definitely provides new facets for learning, but I do not believe we should totally transform to BYOD.

Reflection: Class Interview of Haley from 9/19

In class, we had the assignment to interview a partner about a gift they had recently given. I sat next to Haley Beach this day, so I was privileged with the opportunity to interview her. The question we both started with was “What was the last gift you gave?” Haley and I both sat for a minute pondering what the last gift we gave was, but then Haley smiled and perked up because she was excited to tell her story.

Haley began to tell me about her friend Kenneth, who had a birthday about a month ago. Over the summer, Kenneth worked at a kids camp where they had themed days every now and then, and one of Kenneth’s favorite themes days was when they had a Star Wars day. Kenneth loves Star Wars, and he loved getting to dress up for it. So when Haley was shopping for a birthday present for Kenneth and came across a Chewbacca onesie, she knew it was the perfect gift.


Haley went on to describe how Kenneth wore it for the rest of the day and he carried a sign that said “Free Hugs” because the onesie was so soft. When I asked her how she felt, she said “it made me feel special, because he wore it all day so I really felt as if he genuinely appreciated it.”

We then went deeper into the conversation and I learned that Haley met Kenneth last year at the UGA Baptist Collegiate Ministries were they worked together. She said that Kenneth and her are now in one big friend group together an they even live in the same apartment complex. She said all of her friends call Kenneth “dad” because he looks like he is 40 years old, and they call her “mom” because she washes their clothes, cooks for them, and takes care of them when they are sick. The way Haley described her friendship with this group was so admirable, and it proved to me how much she really cared about her friendships and the people she affects.

Haley and I kept talking, and she told me that she worked at a camp this summer. I asked her if it was the same camp as Kenneth’s and she told me that Kenneth worked in California over the summer, while she worked at a camp for deaf children here in Georgia called Camp DOVE – Deaf Outreach through Visual Effects. This was extremely intriguing to me because I have never met someone who had done this. Haley wants to be a speech pathologist when she graduates, which is why she spent her summer working at this camp. Just like she had when she spoke of the Chewbacca onesie she gave Kenneth, she lit up with sparks when she spoke of this camp. It is remarkable to me that Haley is so passionate about helping others and putting smiles on their faces.

So as we concluded the interview, we were posed with stating goals and wishes of our interviewee, coming up with a statement/solution for our interviewee’s goals and wishes, drawing the solution, and then reflecting on the entirety of the sequence. For Haley’s goals, I wrote that she has a desire to leave a positive legacy in this world however she can. Haley is constantly looking to see how she can put a smile on someone’s face and make them feel important. I was able to see this through the way she spoke of her interactions with her friends, and the students at Camp DOVE.

From her goals that I wrote, I came up with the statement/solution that says, “Haley needs a way to brighten people’s day because she wants everyone to feel loved, but she does not realize how much she actually does make people feel special.” I wrote this statement because the only problem I see with Haley is that she is so humble about the work she does. In reality, this is not a problem, but a good quality to have. Going off of this, I drew five pictures to show how Haley can feel as if she has affected the people around her.


(1) Haley receiving a gift from a friend; (2) A deaf child at Camp DOVE giving Haley a hug; (3) Haley receiving a letter from a friend thanking her for her generosity; (4) Haley receiving an award for the work she does; (5) Haley opening up her own Speech Pathology School.

After the drawings of her solutions, Haley and I gave each other feedback on our discoveries of each other and came up with a final solution. screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-6-55-20-pmI told Haley how I was impressed with what she does for her friends and children that she works with, and showed her my final drawing of her teaching students sign language, because as I mentioned above, her dream is to be a speech pathologist. I know that with Haley’s kindness and care for others, she will be able to fulfill her goals of being a speech pathologist, and I hope that she is able to recognize the impact she has on other’s lives. Haley’s goals evident to see after speaking with her. She is selfless and determined to help others.

I left the class feeling inspired and grateful for the chance to talk to her about this. My biggest take away from this assignment is that I have been in this class with Haley for almost a month, and I probably never would have learned this information about her had we not been assigned to do so. This goes to show how many incredible people surround us on this campus every day, and I am glad to have found this realization.




Genius Hour Cooking Week 2: Dad’s Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wings

This week for my Genius Hour Cooking Challenge, I learned to make my Dad’s Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wings. I wanted to make a chicken dinner this week, to give myself variety. Earlier this year, when my dad heard about my issues with cooking, he put together a recipe book for me of his favorite homemade dinners because he is the chef in my household. Included in this book of recipes were items like salmon, roasted potatoes, and his boneless wings.  These wings were not too hard to make and I would suggest them to anyone who wants to take on a fun, spicy meal.


I started by gathering my ingredients. This recipe called for:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce

The ingredients were easier to find this week, partly because I had items such as salt, pepper, garlic salt, flour, and canola oil. I was able to find the chicken thighs easily at Kroger, as well as the Buffalo Wing Sauce, and I also grabbed some brussels sprouts to make with the wings.

First, I went ahead and preheated the oven to 400 degrees so that it would be ready for me when I finished preparing the food. I then took the chicken thighs and cut them into about 1/2 inch strips from the top to bottom. Once those were sliced, I set them aside and prepared the dry ingredients to dip the wings in. For this, I mixed together the salt, pepper, garlic salt, and flour, and tossed the chicken wings in.



Next, with a large pan, I poured in 2 tbsp of canola oil and heated it up for one minute on medium high heat on the stove. Once heated up, I took tongs and put the chicken in the pan. I sautéed the chicken for 2 minutes on one side, and then flipped each piece and repeated. Once the chicken began to whiten, I poured in 1/2 cup of Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce and stirred it around.

After I stirred in the buffalo sauce, the wings were ready to pop into the oven. The wings cooked for 10 minutes on 400 degrees, and I stirred them once. Prior to this, I prepared the brussels sprouts because they take longer to cook.

For the brussels sprouts, I took about 10 brussels sprouts, washed them, and cut them in half. I put them in a bowl with 2 tsp of olive oil, a dash of garlic salt, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper. I then spread them on a cooking sheet, and put them in the oven on 400 degrees for 25 minutes. A nice tip for cooking brussels sprouts is when I put them on the cooking sheet, I put them with the face up to let them brown. These are good to compliment any dinner, and are extremely nutritious. dsc_0169

The buffalo wings and the brussels sprouts were done at the same time, and were perfectly cooked. I mixed in a little more buffalo sauce into the pan to make them extra hot, and then served them onto my plate. In addition to the sauce that is already on the wings, I like to take a small dipping bowl and mix ranch dressing with buffalo sauce, and heat it up in the microwave for 15 seconds. This mixture is something I have been doing since I was little when my dad made buffalo wings, and the ranch helps to calm down the hotness from the sauce.




Overall, I am thrilled with how my dinner turned out. The wings were spicy, delicious, and fun to make. I learned about how to cook chicken this week, which is something I have never done before. This week I used my skills from the past week with sautéing items on the stove, and I feel as if I could take some of the techniques I learned from cooking this chicken and put them towards what I choose to cook in the future. I am grateful to my dad for sending me this recipe in his cookbook, and I am happy I got to make one of his signature recipes. Next week, I plan to make another delicious meal and I am excited to share new tips and secrets that I learn.



Genius Hour Cooking Week 1: Honey Garlic Shrimp

In the past 2 months that I have been at school, my nights have been quite boring for one main reason; I don’t know how to cook. Each night I have found something microwavable or pre-cooked that I can warm up for 2 minutes and eat, not because I am in a hurry, but really because thats all I know how to do. However fortunately for me, our class has been given the assignment to do a six week long Genius Hour assignment, which has inspired me to learn to cook.

Each week I plan to cook something different to gain knowledge in a variety of different areas. My dad is an amazing cook, so it is important to me that I learn how to do the same. Anyone who is interested in health, cooking, and accomplishing a goal can relate to my challenge. I am searching for tips and recipes in multiple areas such as Pinterest, cook books, and a personal cook book my Dad made for me. I will use Google as well to search for answers on questions I have.

For my first week, I wanted to cook a fish dinner. I went to Pinterest and searched for something that was healthy, looked delicious, and would challenge my skills and knowledge so that I would grow in my cooking. I found a recipe for Honey Garlic Shrimp and decided that I would take this on as my week one Genius Hour challenge.


To begin, I went to Kroger and purchased all of the ingredients that the recipe called for.


  • 1 lb. shrimp
  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

While at the grocery store, I looked to find the best deals on these items as well. I compared store brands to known brands, and chose fresh produce over prepackaged produce. I also bought green beans to sauté and serve with the shrimp. I found that buying fresh green beans instead of pre-cut and prepackaged green beans was a lot cheaper.

When I came home, I first washed the shrimp and began to cook. The first step in the recipe is making the sauce for the shrimp to marinate in. I did not know what marinating was so I googled it, and learned that it is soaking the shrimp in the sauce which allows it to pick up more flavor. So, I combined the ingredients to make the sauce, divided it in half like the recipe called for, and let the shrimp marinate for 25 minutes.


Next I took a 10″ skillet, added some oil, and heated it to medium high heat. I put in half of the shrimp that had been marinating to give them enough space to cook. Using tongs, I let the shrimp brown on one side for about a minute, and then flipped them over to brown on the other side for about one minute. I repeated this with the remaining half of the shrimp, pressing the shrimp in to the skillet to allow it to get as much flavor as possible.


After the shrimp had cooked in the skillet, I moved it to a bowl and drizzled the other half of the sauce that I created in the beginning onto the warm shrimp. I let the shrimp sit in the bowl and soak the flavor up while I began to work on the green beans.

For the green beans, I used my dad’s recipe that he put in a customized cook book for me.  It is a pretty simple process to cook these. I started by washing the green beans and cutting the ends off with cooking scissors. I then put 2 tablespoons of olive oil  into a skillet and heated it up for 1 minute on medium high heat. Next, I tossed in 2 garlic cloves, minced, and heated them until they began to brown. Once the garlic was browning, I threw in the green beans and a dash of salt. The key to cooking these green beans is to keep stirring them and cook them until they bend instead of snap. It took me about 5 minutes to cook them all the way, and then they were ready to serve. dsc_0087

Once the green beans were finished, it was time to dish up. The combination of the shrimp with the green beans created a delicious plate. I was extremely satisfied with what I had created. dsc_0084



So to conflude, I am highly satisfied with the food I prepared. It was healthy, tasty, and filled my appetite. I was so excited to send pictures and recaps of my food to my parents to show them what I did after I finished, and I am looking forward to learning more skills. I can now say that I know what it means to marinate fish, and to properly prepare a recipe. For the future, my goal is to learn how to make dishes like this without using a recipe. This genius hour challenge has really sparked an interest in me with cooking and I am truly prepared to take on the next 5 weeks. Stay tuned to see what I make next, and hopefully learn a new recipe too!



StoryCorps Session: Mekayla + Pair2Share

This week we were assigned to create a StoryCorps interview on any topic we wanted with whomever we wanted. As I thought about who I could interview, the one person that stuck out in my mind was my best friend Mekayla. When she was 16, Mekayla and two of her best friends created Pair2Share, a non-profit organization that donates shoes to young dancers who might not be able to afford them, in hopes of instilling a passion for dance in their lives. Now, Mekayla is a junior in college studying to be a PA, dances as a Georgette for UGA, and serves as the assistant public relations chair for her sorority, in addition to being a co-founder of Pair2Share. In our interview, Mekayla discusses how the team came up with Pair2Share, the challenges she faced with starting a non-profit so young, and the way it has affected her life.


This is a photo of Mekayla giving a pair of dance shoes to a young dancer in need of them. 

I am so grateful that Mekayla gave me the opportunity to ask her about this awesome organization she started. Anyone can donate and help with Pair2Share, regardless if they have danced or not, by sampling spreading the word about the incredible work they do. Mekayla has the biggest heart filled with confidence, dance, and helping others. I am so inspired by her daily, and am excited to share the interview with everyone.

Click here to listen to the interview with Mekayla: How Mekayla Started Pair2Share


Pictured here are the three founders of Pair2Share: Juliana, Meriah, and Mekayla



Reflection: Genius Hour In-Class Reading

This past week, we discussed Genius Hour’s and the benefits they have associated. In order to understand Genius Hour in more depth, we took a deeper look into CNN’s “Genius Hour: Students, what kids could learn from failure.” A genius hour is a set amount of time during a school day where students are challenged to set goals and accomplish them. In this hour, students have the total freedom to complete a project on a topic entirely of their choosing, which allows for the project to become personal and authentic. Genius hour has become an instrumental part in many school’s daily or weekly routines, and many students even beg to have Genius Hour in class. It deals with all of the characteristics in Meaningful Learning as well, and is very interesting to learn about, and participate in.

The Genius Hour project allows students to have total creativity and freedom in their research. It allows them to think for themselves in what they find, what kinds of goals they set, and the conclusions they create. The article stated, “failure is an option,” which is very encouraging to see in an education system where everything is tested and you either pass or fail. Genius hour also provides students with the freedom to take ownership of their own learning, but the teacher provides structure to keep them on task, such as holding conferences every so often. In addition, it allows for students to be collaborative with their work, and learn from their peers. Although they are doing independent projects, students have the opportunity to share their findings which could inspire their classmates and generate feedback as well.

Genius Hour ties in with Meaningful Learning in all of it’s five characteristics. First, it is authentic because it allows students to study real-life things that they are curious about. Whether a student is learning about hurricane patterns or writing a novel, it gives students the opportunity to learn about something happening in our world, not just in a textbook. Second, it is active because it requires to be hands on with their material. Through their presentations and research, students are in control of what they learn and find. It is also constructive because of their opportunity for failure. Students have the potential to fail and try again which teaches them about persistence and critical thinking. It is intentional because the students set their own personal goals for what they want to accomplish in their project. Lastly, it is cooperative because students learn from each other while sharing their work, and their conferences with their teachers helps them to find their successes and failures.

Genius Hour is a strong asset to many schools around the world. It has become a time students long for in class. It shows students that their are other things in the world they are free to explore and do if they set their minds to it. Although it may seem like a time for students to goof off, teachers and parents have come to find how beneficial it can be for students to take a break and put time and dedication into something they truly care about in the school setting. I just wish we had Genius Hour when I was in elementary school.