Thursday, October 24, 2013

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (Baked Chicken)




This is another no-brainer recipe.  But, I decided to post it in case either of my kids (or someone else) wants to know how I do it. 

Baking a whole chicken in the crockpot is one of the easiest things to make.  It takes literally seconds to prepare in the morning.  The only thing you would need to remember is that you do need a THAWED chicken to do this.  You could not use a frozen chicken.  I usually make this as a Monday meal and take my chicken out of the freezer on Sunday, leaving it on a plate to thaw.  I place it in the fridge overnight and Monday morning, I'm ready to get dinner started.

Monday mornings are painful.  I want to stay in bed or stay home or do anything but go to work... but duty calls and so does the bank account.  I can make Rotisserie-Baked Chicken and have several meal options for the week.

We usually have it the first time with some sort of potato or fries. 

Since my family is a little small these days, I usually have leftovers.  You could make chicken salad for lunches, top green salads with chicken for a heartier option there, make quickie burritos or tacos.  Usually, for me after eating dinner with the chicken, I let it cool and remove the crockpot insert and place that the in the fridge.  Always store the leftovers in the fridge! Sometime in the next day or two, I remove any meat, cover the remaining carcass (sorry... I know that sounds gross but there's no other way to say it) with water, cook on low all day, and have a great, rich broth.  With that, I add the meat I removed and make Homemade Chicken & Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Soup, or even a Homemade Pot Pie.  Really, the options are endless and are a super frugal way to stretch a buck.  I usually spend less than $5 on a whole chicken and I can normally get four or 5 meals from that one chicken.  Don't forget to freeze any leftover broth/chicken stock if you don't use it all up.

Here's how I make Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken (Baked Chicken) AT HOME MY WAY:

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken
(Baked Chicken)

  • 1 whole chicken (rinsed well)
  • 1 crockpot with a lid big enough for the whole chicken
  • Various spices.  (I use garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper, salt, regular pepper.)

Instructions:

1.  Rinse the chicken well and place it in the crockpot.     
     (Remember to wash your hands well with soap.) 

2.  Sprinkle with spices of your choice. 

3.  Cover with the lid to the crockpot and turn the crockpot
     on LOW and cook 8-10 hours. 

 Sprinkled with spices and ready to go!



Don't forget the lid and to plug in - and turn on (LOW) the crockpot!
 


This chicken will be SUPER TENDER and you might have to use a big spatula to try to lift it out of the crockpot.  The meat will be juicy, tender, and just delicious!  Usually we serve ours straight out of the crockpot because it is so tender and falls apart.

Enjoy!
 
Gina


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Alphabet Soup - Homemade



I have been having some yucky lunches lately.  I'm so lazy before work sometimes that just throwing stuff in my bag to make when I get there even seems like work.  The tightwad in me won't usually let me eat out and I end up eating something incredibly unsatisfying like graham crackers and peanut butter, or cottage cheese.  Ugh.

I am signed up for some wonderful thrifty-living, work-at home mom blogs and those ladies know how to put it on the table!  They know how to use what they have to make great, frugal, and nutritious meals  One of my favorites is the Prudent Homemaker.  She and her husband stock up and fill their pantry when they have money and then eat from it for long periods of time when they don't.  She bakes her own bread, makes her own soups, and pretty much makes everything from scratch that is possible.   She cooks, sews, gardens, cans, and bakes. She has beautiful pictures on her blog and is always an inspiration to me.

I found her blog post about making homemade Alphabet Soup.  She says that her family is too large for buying canned soups and when I saw the recipe for her Alphabet Soup, I knew I would love it.  I actually had never had homemade vegetable soup without meat but the famous name-brand canned soup that we all grew up eating ... has no meat in it!  Duh....  Soup sounded so good for lunch!  I decided to make some!

I woke up early this morning (old age is heck), threw all of the ingredients (all cans so no prep) into a pot to simmer and hit the shower.  I also grabbed some dough for Crusty Bread (5 Minute a Day bread dough) out of the fridge and baked that while I was cooking the soup, because WHO can have homemade soup without some delicious homemade bread, right?  Let's just say that I can't WAIT FOR LUNCH!  Wouldn't the Prudent Homemaker be proud of ME!

This soup is super delicious.  It puts canned Alphabet Soup to shame!  You will notice that I didn't use alphabet pasta.  I couldn't find it at either Walmart or a local grocery, but I did find little star pasta which is just as cute. 



You will notice that this soup doesn't have potatoes.  You could add some.  I just don't like the texture of leftover potatoes and since Brandy's recipe didn't use potatoes, I knew it would be a winner for my lunches.

Here's how I made Homemade Alphabet Soup AT HOME MY WAY:

Alphabet Soup - Homemade

  • 1 can of green beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water-micro)
  • 2 teaspoons dried/minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 carrots, diced (I used a few carrot coins left in my fridge - canned carrots would work fine also)
  • salt/pepper to taste (you won't need much salt)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup alphabet pasta (or even spaghetti broken in tiny pieces)
Instructions:

Place all ingredients except the pasta in a pot.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until carrots are done  (taste to make sure they ARE done).  Add the pasta, stir well a few times while cooking and cook until pasta is done (approximately 10 minutes).

It's ready!!


NOTES:  I think I will save little dabbles of corn and green beans from our meals (we use those most often as they are favorites) and keep in separate bowls in my freezer for adding to this soup to make it even cheaper by using leftovers instead of buying cans of corn/green beans.


Enjoy!
 
Gina


For more inspiration, the Prudent Homemaker's soup recipes page is

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries



This post is pretty much a no brainer but since it is the first time I have made them ... and since they were so easy and GOOD, I thought they were worth posting.

Last night my husband asked me to make sweet potato fries for dinner.  What!!!!  I couldn't believe it!  My husband is the pickiest of picky eaters and I can assure you that he has never eaten a sweet potato in his life (and yes,... he's old LOL!). 

We went to a friend's house for a fish fry Saturday night.  In addition to fish, chicken, and regular fried potatoes, our friend fried sweet potatoes.  He had told us he was doing them but I just assumed he was using bagged, frozen sweet potato fries.  My hubby was the #2 frier so in addition to frying, he was doing lots of munching and tasting.  I think cooking and munching and tasting is the best way to try new things.  You can't help but be hungry when you are smelling all of that good stuff. 

To my surprise, our friend had sliced regular (peeled) sweet potatoes for his sweet potato fries and my husband loved them!  What a treat!  Doug actually called me over to make sure I tried one. 

I wasn't letting this one get too far back in the dredges of his memory so I made some with our supper last night.  They were easy, fast, and cheap.  Gotta love that!  Doug decided last night that he wanted to try regular sweet potatoes with butter sometime soon.  Who woulda thunk it??

Here's how I made sweet potato fries AT HOME MY WAY:

Sweet Potato Fries
 
  • Sweet potato(s) (peeled and either chopped into fries or slices)
  • Oil
 
Instructions:
 
 
Peel the potatoes (We only needed one for just the two of us.).  Slice into thin slices.  You could also chop as for regular fries but since my hubby is new to sweet potatoes, I made them thin and crisp.
 
Place about 3/4 inch of oil in a skillet and heat until hot.  When you drop a drip of water into the oil, it will sizzle.
 
I placed mine around in the oil so that they were free floating (for crispier fries).
 
 
Fry until browning, flip, and fry until golden brown.
 
Drain on a paper towel or a dish cloth in a plate.
 
 
Sliced and ready to fry.
 
 
 

 

Fry baby, fry.
 
 
 
 
Flipped and frying.
 
 
 
I served them with Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken & corn.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

















Monday, October 21, 2013

Chocolate Pie - A Family Favorite


One of our family's ultimate favorite desserts is this Chocolate Pie!  I have to take it to just about every family function.  Both of my girls like it, the old man likes it, and I LOVE it!  Various other interluders in our family (once married into the family or boyfriends and now exes also love it LOL!).  I always  bring home a completely empty pie plate when I make this.

I referenced this Chocolate Pie in my post about this Lemon Meringue Pie:


I got this recipe from a beloved friend at the first law office I worked at.  Jamilee lives on as I remember her each and every time I make one of her pies.  Jamilee's meringue would have stretched high to the heavens but I haven't quite mastered the art of a tall meringue. 

I personally LOVE meringue but the other members of my family do not so I make my chocolate pies usually without meringue.  Once in a great while I will do my best to put meringue on it.  I highly recommend putting meringue on Chocolate Pie if you like it as it makes this pie completely over the top and gives it that old timey feeling!  YUM!

Here's how I make Chocolate Pie AT HOME MY WAY:

Chocolate Pie
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks (no whites)
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla  (I sit the bottle of vanilla in my baked pie crust so that I don't forget to add it.)
  • Prebaked pie crust
Instructions:

(With the burner OFF), in a med/small saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt.  Stir well.

In a measuring cup, measure the 2 cups cold milk.  Add the 2 egg yolks (no whites!).  Blend to stir to fully incorporate the egg yolks.

Dump the milk/egg mixture in the pot with the dry ingredients.  Stir with a whisk to blend as well as you can.

Turn the burner on medium.  Stir often (almost continuously until it starts to bubble/simmer).  I use a whisk the entire time.  The pudding will try to stick so keep stirring!

Once it starts to bubble, set a timer for 2 minutes.  You may have to turn the burner down so that it doesn't simmer too hard.  Stir continuously and vigorously back and forth with the whisk.

After 2 minutes, remove from the burner.  Stir well and add the vanilla.  Stir well until all vanilla is incorporated and the pudding is smooth.

Dump into the baked pie crust.  (Hint:  Sometimes I don't want to heat up my oven for this pie.  If you place your crust in a micro-proof (glass) pie plate, you can bake it in the microwave by cooking on high 3-5 minutes or until is it done. I check every minute or so.)  Remember to prick your unbaked crust with lots of holes with a fork so that it has room to expand as it bakes.)

My pie crusts aren't pretty but they are delicious and are usually homemade. 


Recipe for Meringue (optional):

  • 2-3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4-6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Instructions:
 
Beat room temp egg whites (two from the pie or use three for a bigger meringue) until foamy and soft peaks will form.  
 
Add 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar per egg white.  (If you are using two egg whites, use four Tablespoons of sugar; if you are using three egg whites, use six Tablespoons of sugar).  
 
Continue beating with electric mixer on high.  Add the sugar a little at a time - not all at once. I use three egg whites for a nicer, taller meringue.  (I'm not a pro at meringue by the way....)  Beat until stiff peaks form.  
 
Slowly fold in vanilla.  Pour over hot pie filling in crust. Spread to touch edges of crust.  Fluff it with the back of a spoon to create nice peaks in the meringue.

Place in preheated oven 350 for approximately 10 minutes or until meringue starts to get tan on the peaks.


Enjoy!
 
Gina


Come see my link for this recipe
along with a bunch of other great cooks at:


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sunken Apple Cake -



The other night when I made the Chili Mac, I also whipped up this Sunken Apple Cake.

I found the recipe at a favorite blog - Chickens in the Road.  Suzanne posted this recipe and said that she even made this little cake after arriving home from a long trip.  Heck, if she has the energy to mix this up after driving from Texas, surely I can mix it up after a long day of visiting at home LOL!  Here is Suzanne's terrific post about this recipe.

I loved everything about this little cake.  It's a small, snack-size cake, made from scratch with items I usually keep in my pantry.  Suzanne used apples and I had two apples left on my little apple tree so I used those.  But, you could use most any fresh or even drained, canned fruit.  It would be great served as a coffee cake for a breakfast treat or when friends stop by to chat and you want a little something to serve.

Sometimes my husband's mom and his aunts all gather together for coffee at his mom's house to catch up and I'm certain I will be making this soon to share with them.  It was delicious although not overly sweet. Another keeper!

Here's how I made Sunken Apple AT HOME MY WAY:

Sunken Apple Cake

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (regular, white, granulated)
  • 2 teaspoons baking POWDER
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted) (I used 1/4 cup oil - worked FINE)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (I used VANILLA)
  • 3 cups sliced/chopped apples
Ingredients for the topping:

1/4 cup sliced/slivered almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar


Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the cake.  Mix well (I just stirred/whipped really well and didn't use a mixer although Suzanne recommends using a mixer).  Pour batter into a sprayed or prepared 8" square pan or pie plate (I used a pie plate).  Place apples on top, evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it a knife inserted comes back clean.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and almonds.

Sprinkle over hot cake and return to the oven and broil on high for a few minutes, watching CAREFULLY so as not to burn the topping.

Enjoy!
Gina
 Before it went into the oven.


Mixing up the topping in a little bowl with a fork.  Easy!


Sprinkled hot cake with topping.


In the words of the Fonz.... "Perfectamundo!"


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Chili Mac - Quicky



My daughter and her boyfriend were in for the weekend.  It was so great to see them!  We toured a great old home in our area on Saturday.  It was built in the mid 1800's and is just humongous.  It is filled with fancy old furnishings, antiques, portraits of the family members, and possibly a few spirits LOL!

My daughter and her dad always have a standing date at Pizza Hut on Saturday afternoons when she's home (not my thing exactly, but my daughter, her boyfriend, and Doug really love it .. so what can I say??).  I joined them for lunch so I wasn't very hungry all afternoon.  In fact, I was so full that I just couldn't think of anything to take out of the freezer to make for supper.

By about 6PM, I was getting a little hungry.  I had a small amount of hamburger in my freezer which could be thawed quickly in the microwave.  It was about the size of my fist.  What on earth could I make with that little dabble of hamburger?  I decided to try my hand at Chili Mac.  You know... kind of along the same idea as Hamburger Helper but using chili type ingredients.  (I didn't have the amount of cheese that I needed for Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni and it was kind of rainy weather.  Perfect for chili.  I just also didn't have the amount of hamburger that you would need to make a whole pot of chili.  So, Chili Mac it WAS and it turned out delicious!  I served it with some baby carrots and dip and we loved it!

Here's how I made Chili Mac AT HOME MY WAY:

Chili Mac
  • 1 pound of hamburger (or less)
  • 1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (diced would work also)
    1 can of kidney or pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (my family doesn't like onions)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of chili powder (or less if you like less spicy)
  • salt & pepper to your liking
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup of UNCOOKED elbow macaraoni
Instructions:
Brown the hamburger in a decent sized skillet or dutch oven.  Drain if needed.  Add the onion powder and some salt/pepper.  Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, drained kidney/pinto beans, water, chili powder.  Stir well.  Cook on medium heat with a lid (stirring occasionally) about 15 minutes (until all the tastes have time to blend together).
Add the UNCOOKED macaroni to the pot.  Stir well.  Heat and stir often because the macaroni will try to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Continue cooking with a lid, stirring occasionally until the macaroni is done.  This took about 10-12 minutes.
*If your Chili Mac looks pretty dry and your macaroni isn't done, feel free to add a little drizzle of water, stir and continue cooking until the macaroni is done. 
Looks great, doesn't it?  The college kids loved it!


 This is mine before the macaroni had time to cook and swell up.  This will thicken a lot as the macaroni cooks:



Enjoy!

Gina


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