Thursday, January 27, 2011


Does anyone else remember when your favorite lunch item at school were those big huge puffy rolls that were served with almost every school lunch? Those were the days! Now it seems like kids are only served prepackaged, warm-up entrees and dinner rolls are a thing of the past.

This dinner roll recipe is the best of the best! They are as good as those rolls made by little lunchroom ladies in hair nets! Sometimes I wear an apron, but never a hair net, and my rolls turn out perfect even though I'm not a lunchroom lady!

This dough can be made in the bread machine, but they are pretty easy. (I'm just very wordy and tell you every single step here!) No Bread Machine Required.

This recipe shared at the Grocery Cart Challenge
SCHOOLHOUSE DINNER ROLLS (Bread Machine instructions)
1 1/3 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt)
1 packet of yeast (or 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup white sugar

Instructions: Measure the water in a 2 cup measuring cup, add the sugar and yeast. Mix well and set a timer for 10 minutes. Let this get all foamy for 10 minutes and then dump in your bread machine pan.

Add 1/4 cup oil (vegetable, canola, or even olive oil is fine)

Next add 4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt.

Set you bread machine to the dough setting. (Mine takes 2 hours.)
When the dough setting is complete, proceed as below by forming rolls, etc.

In a 2-cup measuring cup (warmed with hot/warm water first), mix:

1 1/3 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt)
2 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup white sugar

Mix well. Set a timer for 10 minutes for this mixture to "proof".

Add the 1/4 cup oil to the measuring cup of this "proofed" mixture.

In a large bowl, measure your flour. Add 1 teaspoon salt and mix very well.

Dump the liquids (proofed yeast/water/sugar & oil) on top of the flour/salt in the bowl. Stir well (I use a wooden spoon). When its too stiff to stir, start kneading in the bowl, twisting and pushing until the dough forms a ball.

This dough has plenty of oil in it so you won't have to add any more flour. You need to knead it for 7 minutes (set a timer).

I was able to pick up my dough and just squish it with my thumbs, stretching and pushing it for the full 7 minutes while I walked around and looked out the windows, etc. The dough will become noticably more "smooth."

After 7 minutes, form the dough into balls (a little bigger than golf balls) and place them in a greased/sprayed pan - so that they aren't touching (1/2 inch apart). I then sprayed my rolls with a little cooking spray (its 100% oil), covered them with a little bit of plastic wrap and put them in my oven with only the light on, and let them rise (approximately 45 minutes) (DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THERE BEFORE YOU PREHEAT YOUR OVEN).

When the rolls look all nice and puffy and touching each other... (showing some LOVE!), take these rising rolls out of the oven, and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. DO NOT PUT THE ROLLS IN THE OVEN UNTIL THE OVEN IS FINISHED PREHEATING.

Bake them app. 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

NOTE: This recipe also makes excellent cinnamon rolls. Just roll out the dough, spread with butter/margarine, some brown sugar and cinnamon, Roll up, slice, place in greased/sprayed pan to rise and then bake and frost.

NOTE 2: Most recipes say you need to let the dough rise, then punch it down and form the rolls. But, over the weekend I tried making these rolls without this step and I couldn't tell a single difference. So, no use wasting time on this step. After the dough is kneaded, form the rolls, and only let them rise the one time prior to baking.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Daughter #1 is VERY PICKY! And FINALLY, her taste buds are calming down and we are finding a few other meals that she likes (other than hamburgers, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, and cheeseburger macaroni). She was at a summer party in a rural small town nearby and she tried some "pulled pork". She raved about it! She texted and begged the poor guy who brought the stuff to give her the recipe. But he claimed it was an "old family recipe" and he couldn't give it up. Well... luckily her mama is a little dynamo on google and so found a recipe Daughter #1 might consider (because she doesn't like sweet BBQ sauces).

We made this one and it was a winner. Daughter #1 made this for some of her guy friends and they gobbled it down too.

Here's how it happens:


Put a pork loin (we don't really like pork shoulder, but prefer a pork loin... but that's because we prefer a drier consistency to our meat)in your large crockpot.

Mix together: 1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder

Sprinkle this over the meat.

Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove the meat from the crockpot and reserve the juice if there is any.

In a small bowl mix the TANGY BBQ SAUCE:

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper

(I double this recipe)

Stir until well dissolved.

Shred the pork, put it back in the crockpot, dump on the sauce and stir. Heat on low until ready to serve. If this mixture seems to "thick" for you, add some of the reserved juice to thin it down and make it a little juicier.

Serve with your favorite hamburger buns, slaw, chips, etc.

This BBQ sauce is EXCELLENT. Would be good for dipping chips, or even using on chicken. Its easy, uses relatively few ingredients and is a real KEEPER!


I shared this recipe at:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Success with Homemade Yogurt

I made homemade yogurt again. Last time I made it, it turned great. But I just cooked with it and never got really brave enough to eat the stuff LOL. But, then I ran across this blog post at The Rickett Chronicles. I was inspired again to find a way to sweeten it and add fruit to it so I could really be eating something good for me. Ka-ching! I did it!

This is how I did it:


1 half gallon 2 percent milk (I used Central Dairy because it is not ultra pasteurized. If it says ultra pasteurized, don't get it. It may fail.)

1/2 cup of store bought plain yogurt. (Freeze the other half for making yogurt another day. You can also use 1/2 cup of the yogurt you make to further make more batches of yogurt. But, every 4 batches or so you need to use the store bought stuff to strengthen your cultures.)

1/3 cup powdered milk

1 candy thermometer

1 cooler (I used one of those insulators for my crockpot because I could zip it up.)

1 large pot to cook in and 1 large pot to sit in the cooler to contain the jars

2 quart canning jars and 1 pint canning jar, all with lids

Pour your milk into a pot. Heat to 180 degrees. Careful not to scorch. I stirred it here and there.
At 180, remove it from the heat. Let this cool down to 110 degrees (any hotter and it will kill your yogurt cultures). This took about 30 minutes.

At 110 degrees, take about a cup of the warm milk and add it to a small bowl with your 1/2 cup of store bought yogurt. Stir well. Then add that back to the big pot of milk. Stir well and also stir in the 1/3 cup of milk powder.

Dump into 2 quart canning jars and one pint canning jar. Place lids on.

Put a clean pot in your cooler/insulator (just for the flat surface). Lay a towel in there or a thick hand towel and then put the pot on top so that the pot is padded by the towel (extra insulation here).

Set the jars of milk (soon to be yogurt) in the pot.

Take some hot water (just from the tap) and poor that around the jars in the pot.

Put the lid on your cooler. Lay another towel over the cooler.

Let this sit for 8 hours.

Take the jars out and tip them sideways. No tipping means you have yogurt. Take a whiff. It smells so clean and glorious!

Now, to eat this for breakfast, I dumped one cup out, sweetened with about 2 Tablespoons of sugar and added some sweetened strawberries (because that's what I had). I ate this with this granola and it was very filling and very good.

I use the plain yogurt in place of sour cream for cooking.

This homemade yogurt seems to last forever. I bet mine lasted 3 or 4 weeks and I just kept cooking with it. (I use it in place of the sour cream in my hashbrown casserole and my family never knows the difference! I'm not telling either!)

Baked potatoes and onions

This goes great with this fish dinner!

My Mom and Dad used to have these friends in Florida and we would go to their house for fish fries. They lived on a canal in Eustis, Florida. The water was pitch black! Now, besides these fabulous potatoes, the other things I remember most about going to their house to eat was that the Mom kept sheets covering all of her furniture. Even when we were there for dinner. You would have thought we would have been "the guests" but maybe not. ;) The other thing was that they had this doberman pincher dog named "Satan" and she roamed around in the backyard patroling for gators. My mom made this dish and I modified it for my onion hater family. Its very good and is a healthier take on fried potatoes and onions.


1-2 bags of those cheapo little shoestring french fries. I use Always Save which I get from Country Market. Walmart does not carry them. They carry only regular cut fries, but they are really cut too big for this recipe and I prefer the Always Save ones.

2-4 Tablespoons margarine
1 onion sliced thin or 2 Tablespoons of onion powder.

Spray a baking pan with cooking spray or butter it really good.
Dump in the frozen shoestring fries
cut the butter in little cubes and drop around on the potatoes
place sliced onions on top or sprinkle with the onion powder. Stir through some if you want the onions throughout or leave it as it is.

Place in preheated oven (350 or 400 degrees) for 45 minutes or so, covered with foil, or until the fries start to brown around the edges.

Sometimes I microwave my frozen shoestring fries to cut some of the time off of this so that they are thawed and/or hot going in.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


We love to have a fish fry. But, in the winter or when I don't want to "smell grease" inside my house, or when I think Big Daddy needs to eat something healthier, I make fried fish in my oven. It works great! I even tested it on my parents and they loved it.


6-8 crappy or tilapia filets (I used frozen tilapia filets)
packaged Fish Fry mix - (I used the kind from Orscheln Farm Store)
cooking spray (I use generic, of course)
cookie sheet

Place 2-3 cups of the fish fry mixture you are using in a gallon ziploc type bag.
Put in the pieces of thawed fish.
Shake good until each piece is well coated. You may have to turn them over and shake again.

Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place the coated fish pieces on the cookie sheet. Spray the fish with a little cooking spray (it says 100% oil so its fine). Place in preheated 400 degree oven.

Bake 30 minutes or so or until your fish feels solid and doesn't fall apart. You should be able to lift the whole piece off the cookie sheet (with a spatula) without it falling apart (keeping in mind that I don't eat raw fish and don't want to take any chances, so mine may be overcooked for some people's taste).


I made some cole slaw to have with fish the other night. It turned out great. I could just make a small amount and will use the leftover cabbage for egg rolls.


You will need:

1/2 cup Mayo/Miracle Whip (I had generic Miracle Whip also known as "salad dressing")
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vinegar (I only had cider vinegar)

Mix the ingredients for the dressing.

Add to about 3 cups of grated cabbage or half a bag of cole slaw mix.

Stir well and let sit in the fridge for an hour so the dressing softens the cabbage.

I loved it!


This is one of those brainless dinners you can put in the crockpot in two minutes and then have most of your supper done when you get home. I just make either mashed potatoes (my husband will even eat instant-OUCH), rice, or egg noodles to go with. Add a vegetable or salad and you've got a warm, delicious meal ready for your family, even when you're tired and have had a long day at work.

6-10 pieces of chicken (I use boneless, skinless breast tenders because that's what we like but even thawed bone-in pieces would work)
1 can cream of chicken soup (generic is fine or even homemade)
pepper (there's plenty of salt in the soup so I don't add any salt)
1-2 cans of cheapo biscuits


If you think about it the night before: Put the frozen chicken pieces on a plate in the fridge to thaw - even partially - in the fridge overnight.  If you are using boneless chicken tenders, frozen is fine.  If you are using bone-in chicken pieces, make sure they are thawed. In the morning, place the chicken pieces (thawed, frozen, or partially thawed is fine if it cooks the entire 8-10 hours) in the crockpot (you must use a crockpot that has a removable insert for making this dish). Dump on the can of cream of chicken soup along with 1 1/2 cans of water. Stir a little.  (This takes a total of about 90 seconds, seriously!) Cook on low 8-10 hours.

After arriving home and before serving.  Preheat the oven to 400 °.  Top with 1-2 cans cheapo canned biscuits or 1 can of Grands if you like. I have even made homemade biscuits to drop on top.  Remove the ceramic insert from the crockpot (with the chicken/gravy/biscuits inside) (its HOT so use potholders).  Place the ceramic insert (without the lid) in a preheated 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until the biscuits are browning.

Take it out of the oven, get the table set, and DIG RIGHT IN!

My family loves this and leftovers make a terrific pot pie.

Unbaked biscuits just lay on top of the chicken/gravy that is cooked all day in the crockpot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Perfect Granola

(I eat this with yogurt and fruit, like the yogurt parfaits at McDonalds - but also this is completely fabulous with just milk - like a bowl of cold cereal.) Makes a great gift!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil (I use Canola)
1/2 cup honey

1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

7 cups oats (I use old fashioned, NOT quick cooking), chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc. (just make sure your combined oats/nuts only equals 7 cups)

Mix brown sugar, oil, and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

Mix oats and nuts in a large bowl. Pour liquid ingredients over. Stir well until well coated.

Spread in a 10×13 pan. (I use a broiler pan for this. I either spray it with Pam first or use a sheet of parchment paper - which I fold up and reuse over and over every time I make granola). Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.

Take out and stir.
Return pan to oven. Turn oven off.

Go to bed. Wake up to a delicious, cinnamon-y sent wafting through your kitchen!

The directions say to go to bed. But I peek at mine and if its looking done, I go ahead and take it out or crack the oven door so it doesn't continue to cook. I think my oven is slow to cool down.

Add any dried fruits after this granola is finished. Break apart and stir in ziploc or large glass jar.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Day! We Made Homemade Pita Bread.

My husband had the flu over New Years. Well... he said, "its just a head cold", but it was the flu and he's still not completely over it. Needless to say, I stayed in the kitchen trying all sorts of recipes that I always find and never get to. I have made homemade pita bread before, but sometimes they puff up and sometimes they don't. When I read about how soft these pitas are, I knew I had to try them! Boy am I so glad I did! They are absolutely perfect. And, the plus, they are another bread machine recipe so half the work was done for me. My daughter helped out making these pitas. She rolled them out for me. They were easy and very delicious! I made a mixture of chicken, peppers, and onions to put in our pitas because I didn't have any lunch meat. We both were eating with our eyes rolled back in our heads! LOL. I even opened one up and put a little grape jelly in there. Now, that was a little piece of paradise! I highly recommend these pitas. Don't be scared off by the sound of "making homemade pita." They are easy! This is a fairly small recipe, and they keep well for making sandwiches throughout the week.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade (BM) Pita Bread

1 1/8 cups warm water (Remember, hot but no hurt! Like hot bath water!)
1 Tablespoon oil (I used olive oil.)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place all of the ingredients in the pan of your bread machine according to your bread machines instructions. Select the dough setting. Once the cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface so that you can handle the dough without it sticking to you. Gently roll and stretch the dough into a 12-15 inch section. With a sharp knife, divide the dough into 8 pieces. I divided in half, divided each piece in half, and divided each of those pieces in half - for 8 even sections. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6 or 7 inch circle. Set aside on a lightly floured surface. (I used my cooling racks). Let rise/rest (they don't rise much at least 30 minutes or until they are slightly puffy. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place 2 or 3 pitas on a wire cooling rack. Place rack directly on the oven rack. Bake pitas 5 minutes or until puffed and tops are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and immediately place pitas in a sealed brown paper bag or cover them with a tea-towel until soft. (The steam keeps them soft.) Continue process until all pitas have been cooked. Once pitas have softened, you may cut them in halves or just the tops.

The pitas can be stored in a storage bag and refrigerated for several days or in the freezer for 1 to 2 months.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Healthier Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these terrific little cookies. And shhh! They don't use any butter, margarine, oil or shortening. I thought there was a problem with the recipe, but I made them anyway. And.... they are fabulous! They were a little different to work with, but they are just awesome! And so GOOD FOR YOU!


2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar (white sugar is fine here as well)
1 cup oats (I used quick oats, but old fashioned is fine too)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup corn syrup (I might try honey here)
1/8 cup chocolate chips (dark is the best for you, but I had milk chocolate)

Mix together the flour, sugar, oats, cocoa and baking powder. Stir well to combine.

Mix together the egg, vanilla, syrup and stir to mix. Add to the dry ingredients. Mix well. It will be very dry and crumbly. Just stir and stir with a sturdy spoon -like a wooden spoon.

Add in chocolate chips - or press them into the top of the cookie after you pat them on the cookie sheet.

Scoop out into balls (like a golf ball) and then place on sprayed cookie sheet.

Flatten down a little with your hand. Like little fat cookies.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Cool 2-4 minutes and remove from cookie sheet.

Makes a very small recipe. Like about 18 cookies.

Making homemade bread for sandwiches

I've always wanted to make my own homemade sandwich bread. (My picture quality is terrible but the bread is just PERFECT!) I have searched and searched for the perfect recipe for everyday sandwich bread and always the bread I make is either too heavy, too moist, or too MUCH! But, I made one this weekend that is so perfect. I don't know if this works the "old fashioned" way. I have a bread machine and so since the directions said to use a bread machine, that is what I did. However, I only use my bread machine for making the dough. After the dough setting completes, I take it from there and bake it in a regular loaf pan in the real oven.

Its great! Very soft! In fact, I let it cool completely and still had to slice it with an electric knife. Picture trying to slice a loaf of Wonder Bread with a knife. That's what I'm talking about!

Here's the recipe with exact instructions on how I did it. Worked like a charm and we had this for our favorite, peanut butter and apricot preserve sandwiches. Yum!

Follow the directions exactly. It is terrific. You will never have to buy bread again.

White Sandwich Bread
1 cup warm water (hot but no hurt - should feel like hot bath water)
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup oil
3 cups AP flour or bread flour (I have substituted a cup of the flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour and it makes a delicious light wheat bread, which is pictured)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

• In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure the very warm water (1 cup), stir in yeast and sugar. Set a timer for 10 minutes. It will start bubbling and at the end of 10 minutes, will look like a big glass of root beer with a tall soft, frothy foam on top. Add the oil and then dump in the pan of the bread machine.

• Next add your flour and top with the salt. (I realize your bread machine may say to do this in a different order, but do it this way and you will have a perfect loaf.)

• Set your bread machine to the dough setting.

• And the end of this cycle (when it is "ready"), then dump the dough on a floured surface (I use a dinner plate with a little flour dumped on there). Knead with floured hands a couple of times - like 5 times. Form into a loaf. Spray or grease your loaf pan. Place dough inside. I then sprayed my loaf with Pam to it didn't dry out. Let rise 1 hour or until it rises up out of the loaf pan by an inch or so.

• Preheat your oven completely before putting the loaf in -to 350 degrees.

• Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. (check at 20 minutes).

• Let it sit in the pan about 5 minutes. Then, carefully (because the loaf is so soft) take it out of the pan and let it cool on a cooling rack. Let it cool completely and then slice using an electric knife or large surrogated knife.

It makes great sandwiches, grilled cheese, peanut butter. Probably would make great hamburger and hotdog buns as well.

I'm sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

January Menu Log

I can never seem to make a menu plan as a "plan". So, I decided I would make a menu journal. Then, next January I can at least see what we had this January. We have daughter #1 living at home with us right now (she moved home over the summer),so between she and Big Daddy, its nearly impossible to please them both by cooking the same thing. Sometimes, I end up making a combination dinner. That means I take one meat and cook it two ways, suiting both of them. Daughter #2 and I are more flexible. We like pretty much everything. But,then with that being said, we don't like repetitive meals (like hubby and daughter #1), so I probably do way more cooking than most folks. But, we're happy and that's all that matters, right?

JANUARY 2010 Menu Log
Main Dish/Supper
Homemade Stir Fry / Steak & gravy with a micro potato
BFF Chili / frozen pizza
HM spaghetti sauce, cole slaw, and garlic toast
Crockpot Chicken and Biscuits
Baked "Fried Fish", oven fried seasoned shoestring fries, HM corn muffins, stewed tomatoes, and pinto beans (oink-oink)
Tacos with HM flour tortillas, layer dip, and leftover pinto beans (from the fish dinner)
Crockpot pulled pork with homemade tangy BBQ sauce, homemade BM hamburger buns, hashbrown casserole, and Mom's Thickened Corn
Welcome Home Lisa Roast Dinner at Grandma's. I took sweet tea and Schoolhouse Dinner Rolls
Best Goulash Ever

BM White Sandwich Bread
BM Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

BM Pita Bread

Breakfast items
Perfect Granola
Homemade Yogurt
Homemade packets of oatmeal (bulk recipe I keep in an oatmeal container). I got this recipe from a favorite blog-Mommy's Kitchen

Healthy Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hillbilly Housewife Plain Yellow Cake (I added a box of lemon jello powder) and glazed with a powdered sugar/lemon juice glaze.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


2 (or more) chicken tenders or 1 med/large steak cut in small strips/chunks
2-3 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
1 onion, chopped/sliced
1 green, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced or chopped
1/2 cup of Teriyaki sauce (in the bottle)
1/4 cup of General Tsao sauce (not sure how to spell that)
1/4 cup of water + additional water as needed
1 bunch of broccoli, cut into little trees (about 2 cups)
1 small can of mushrooms, drained (optional)

Optional: Squash or zucchini (sliced); carrots (small slices) or whatever veges you have (fresh not frozen) (I buy the prebagged stuff at Gerbes)

2-3 packages of Ramen noodles cooked WITHOUT the seasoning packets and drained. (I used 3 packages last time and I could have fed 4 easily.) Start the ramen noodles after the meat is done because it moves pretty fast after that and you want your ramen noodles ready when the stirfry is done.

Drizzle oil in large non-stick skillet. Add the onion/bell peppers/mushrooms/carrots. Stirfry on med/high until the onions/peppers are softened/clear - 5 minutes or so. Then add the meat. Cook until the meat is done. If the skillet looks dry at this point add a little (1/4 cup) of water at this point to deglaze the pan and keep the meat/onions/peppers from burning.

In separate measuring cup, combine teriyaki and General Tsao sauce, and approximately 1/4 cup of water, stir well. Add to the skillet where the meat, onions, and peppers are cooking. Bring to a boil. If this doesn’t look juicy (because you will be steaming your broccoli in there), add another 1/4 cup of water and stir.

Add broccoli, squash, etc. At this point you can also add some of those little corn cobs that come in the can (drained/chopped) or water chestnuts (drained) are good as well.

Cook with a lid until veges are steamed good. The broccoli will turn bright green (do not overcook). Its done when the broccoli is bright green.

Fold/stir in the cooked Ramen noodles (drained, but without the seasoning packets). Instead of ramen noodles, you could also serve this with rice.

You can also make this without meat. Just start with browning the onions/peppers and proceed from there.


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