Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Monday - January 27, 2014

I'm trying to get a game plan for the week and thought I would post a menu to keep me on track.

Here's my plan:

Monday:
  • Breakfast:  Yogurt (homemade-small batch recipe) with fruit and homemade Perfect Granola (pecan & almond)
  • Lunch:  Salad with homemade ranch dressing using this Mix and the homemade yogurt)
  • Supper:  Crockpot-steak w/ mushroom gravy & noodles, leftover toasted homemade biscuits, and a vegetable

Tuesday:
  • Breakfast:  Lemon Poppyseed Muffins - trying this recipe HERE.
  • Lunch:  Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • SupperSloppy Joes/Juicy Burgers with oven fries

Wednesday:
  • Breakfast:  leftover muffins
  • Lunch:  tortilla with leftover Sloppy Joes
  • Supper:  Make potpie with leftover beef/gravy using this recipe (Potpie with Batter Crust) but using the leftover beef.
Thursday:


Friday:


Saturday & Sunday - We'll see about those!  At least this is a start!




Gina

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chewy Brownie Cookies



I'm not much of a cookie baker, but I decided to try a new recipe over the weekend.  They turned out great! 

They are super fudgy and nice, fat little cookies.  They will be perfect for a valentine treat so I will definitely want to remember this recipe!  They would also be great to pack for lunch treats, for potlucks, and for sharing with a friend.

Here's how I made Chewy Brownie Cookies AT HOME MY WAY:

 
Chewy Brownie Cookies
 
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-vegetable shortening (Crisco or generic)
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I only used one cup.)
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
(I used a big wooden spoon and mixed by hand.) 
 
In a mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar and shortening until smooth.  Add the water, vanilla, and eggs.  Stir well.  Add the salt, baking soda.  Stir well.  Add the cocoa powder and stir again.  Add the flour and mix again until all mixed.  (It will be thick!)  Add the chocolate chips last and stir again.
 
Place on parchment covered cookie sheet or spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray.
 
Scoop cookie dough with small spoon and form into a ball.  Place balls on parchment covered or sprayed cookie sheet.
 
Bake for 11-13 minutes or until firm and set.
 
Let cool about five minutes and remove to a cooling rack.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina
 

 
 
 
I scooped the dough with regular "eating spoons" and formed into balls, then placed on the cookie sheet.
 

 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vanilla Scones - Just Like Starbucks



We have a new favorite breakfast treat!  Vanilla Scones!

I found this recipe last week and since it said "just like Starbucks", I knew they had to be good!

I have a confession.  I have never had Starbucks Vanilla Scones.  I guessed that since the chocolate muffins I had at Starbucks were super delicious, so would be the Vanilla Scones.  I was so right!!

This recipe uses ingredients that I usually keep in my pantry and refrigerator.  I like to keep recipes on hand for items just like this - that require no trips to the dreaded grocery store.

My mom came over just as these scones cooled on my kitchen counter.  We dove right in!  They were so delicious that we really couldn't believe it.  My mom told me that they rate right up there with my homemade donuts.  She loves my homemade donuts the most of anything I make so I will take her comments about these scones as a serious compliment, ha-ha.

My husband and dad were outside cutting firewood and when they came in the house, they both had one too.  My husband loved them!  My dad loves everything but he also loved them LOL.  Doug immediately came into the living room chomping on one and said, "What are THESE?  These things are delicious!" 

I had never made scones before I made this recipe.  I will be making them often!  I also will be trying some variations with this recipe. I'm betting that adding some coconut or blueberries would make flavors that we would also like.

Here's how I made Vanilla Scones - Just Like Starbucks AT HOME MY WAY:



Vanilla Scones - Just Like Starbucks
 
 
Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons salted real butter
 
Wet ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used homemade yogurt) or sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
 
Combine dry ingredients.  Grate the COLD butter into the dry ingredients.  Blend the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, two knives, or a fork until butter is crumbly like the size of peas.
 
In a separate dish, mix the yogurt (or sour cream), egg yolk, and vanilla until completely combined (I just measured my yogurt, then added the egg yolk and vanilla to the measuring cup and stirred well).
 
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir.  Stir until all the dry ingredients are absorbed into the wet.  I had to use the back of my wooden spoon to bring up all of the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and blend them in.  It may seem like you won't be able to but keep working at it.  Form the dough into a ball in the bowl.  The dough will be sticky.
 
Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
 
Put the ball of dough on the parchment paper and gently press into a circle.  The dough should be about one inch thick.  Cut into pie shapes (wedges) but do not separate the wedges.  Just cut them and leave them.
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 
Bake 15 minutes.
 
Mix glaze while scones are baking.  Add a tiny bit more milk if needed to make a smooth glaze.
 
Brush onto warm scones.  (Brushing makes a smoother surface and uses less glaze than drizzling.)
 
 
Here are some pics of the process:
 
 
Mixing the dry ingredients.
 
 
Grating butter into the dry ingredients.

 
 
 
Blending grated butter into dry ingredients until crumbly.
 

Mixing yogurt, egg yolk, and vanilla until smooth.
 
 
 
Adding wet to dry ingredients.
 
 
Stir until all combined and form into a ball in the bowl.
 
 


 
Place dough on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.
Press into a circle until dough is one inch thick.
Cut into wedges but do not separate.
 
 
I used a pizza cutter to cut the wedges.
 
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
 
 
After 15 minutes they will be toasty brown. 
Remove from the oven.
 
 
Mix the glaze and brush on. 
 
 
Try to let them cool before diving in.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina
 
 
 
I shared this recipe at:
 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Tacos



Last night my older daughter had me over for supper.  When she was in college, she often went to Taco Tuesdays at the local bar and grill in her college town.  It was Tuesday yesterday and we had tacos so we definitely had some good Taco Tuesday at her house.  I'm betting hers beat the socks off what she used to eat in college!

Rebecca got a new crockpot for Christmas from her grandma and had a new recipe to try in it.  She made Crockpot Chicken Tacos.  It turned out wonderful!  What a treat!  Sometimes grownup children are good for something, like having you over for supper after work AND doing all the dishes!  Got to love that! 

We both agreed that we will make this recipe a lot.  In fact, we both liked it just as good (if not better) than ground beef tacos.  It was super easy to throw together!  In fact, it doesn't get much easier than this recipe!  The chicken was juicy and just perfect!

Here's how she made Crockpot Chicken Tacos AT HOME MY WAY:

 
Crockpot Chicken Tacos
 
 
  • 4 boneless, skinless breast (frozen or thawed) chicken pieces.  (If you use more pieces, use more salsa.)
  • 1/2 jar salsa (the short jars you get in the chip aisle) (we liked medium heat for this dish)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (nonfat is fine)
  • Tortillas (crunchy or soft) and taco toppings of your choice
 We used one-half of a generic jar of salsa (15.5 oz) like this:

 
Instructions:
 
 
Place chicken pieces in the crockpot.  Pour salsa OVER the chicken (so that it soaks into the chicken while cooking).  Sprinkle on the taco seasoning.
 
Cook on low 8-10 hours.
 
After 8-10 hours, shred the chicken with some forks, pulling and breaking the meat apart (do NOT drain off any juice - it will keep the shredded meat juicy).  Cube the cream cheese over the chicken and replace the lid.  Continue to cook another 15-30 minutes in the crockpot until you can blend the cream cheese and any juice into the chicken.
 
Serve on taco shells or tortillas with your favorite taco toppings (we used salsa, grated cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream) and sides.
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guy Potluck - Sweet Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

(Doug baked these before I got up this particular morning since I didn't have to work (ahhh!) so I didn't get a chance to snap a picture after he baked them.)
 
 
My guy had treat day at the office a few weeks ago.  Since he's a little on the picky side (that's an understatement LOL), he always tries to bring something that he likes (as opposed to the easier dips, cookies, and finger foods that most people enjoy but he doesn't touch) and always insists on something that he can make himself.  I have volunteered to make my famous Cinnamon Rolls, his favorite Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread or some other dish he likes but in addition to wanting to make it himself, he usually wants to bring something savory.  Doug says that they usually have all sorts of sweets so he wants something not so sweet.

I had been telling Doug about these sandwiches lately.  They were all the rage on Facebook and Pinterest throughout the holidays.  There are different versions of this recipe "out there" but we settled on this one.  Even though these sandwiches are on the sweeter side (they use Kings Hawaiian Rolls), my hubby loved them!  The ham, cheese, and glaze toasted into the slightly sweet rolls was a combination he said his entire office loved!  He was so excited and proud to take this dish to his office potluck. 

Of course, we women can make them (better probably, right LOL?) but this was a great dish for MY hubby to make, himself, and to take to work.

Here's how the old man made Sweet Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, AT HOME MY WAY:

(NOTE:  Doug made two dozen sandwiches so you could easily cut this recipe in half if you want to use only one dozen Kings Hawaiian Rolls).

Guy Potluck-Sweet Ham & Cheese
Sandwiches
  • 2 packages Kings Hawaiian "Butter" Rolls
  • 1 package (10 oz) thinly sliced "cooked" ham
  • 1 package  (6 oz) sliced white cheese (provolone, swiss)
  • 1 stick margarine/butter (fully melted)
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
 
Directions:
 
Using a long knife, slice the entire package of rolls in half (keeping them all hooked together):
 
 
 
Gently lift the top off and set aside.
 
This is the ham & cheese (provolone) that Doug used:
 
 
 
Cut each slice of cheese and each piece of ham into fourths.  He used a pizza cutter for this and it worked great:
 
 
 
Assemble the sandwiches.  Doug used two layers of ham and cheese for the first set of sandwiches.  We didn't have quite enough for two layers on the entire second set but they were fine.
 
 

 Top with the top half section of the rolls and place in a cake pan/cookie sheet.



 Mix the glaze in a small bowl:



 
 
Brush on a layer of the glaze over the rolls:
 


 
 
Doug placed the rolls (covered) in the refrigerator overnight.  You wouldn't have to do this step but it allowed the glaze to soak in and really made the sandwiches over the top!
 
 
BAKE at 375 degrees (fully preheated oven) for 15 minutes (uncovered) before serving.
 
 
 
(HINT:  Doug placed each section of baked rolls in a crockpot (separated by a layer of foil between each section) and kept them warm for his potluck lunch in a crockpot.)
 
 
These would be great also with turkey & cheese!
 
Perfect for tailgating, breakfasts carry-ins, lunches, feeding ball teams, you name it!  They are a keeper recipe for sure!
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Gina
 
 

 
I shared this recipe at:
 
 











Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Homemade Yogurt - Small Batch




I've been trying to cut down on the items that I buy that come in plastic containers.  I read about BPA's possible links to cancer in an email article that I received from Rodale News HERE.  I always lean to making my own instead of buying prepackaged, so this was just another reason for me to get down to basics.

One of the items that you can only buy in plastic unless you make your own is yogurt.  It's so EASY to make!  I've done it before but most recipes make a lot more yogurt than I can eat.  I also wanted to make some so that I could play around with getting it to taste like I'm used to.  (I'm used to prepackaged, sweetened, fruit on the bottom.  My favorite is Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom, but it is so hard to find!)

Yes, I did have to start with a plastic cup of premade, plain yogurt, but after this first batch, I can use my own yogurt as the "starter" so this will be the last plastic cup of premade yogurt that I have to buy for a long while.  I was only able to find a small container of greek style yogurt and it worked fine.  Probably my yogurt tastes more like greek yogurt than regular yogurt but it's not super sour so I really like it!  I either eat it with sweetened fruit or sweeten with some sugar and vanilla for a taste that I'm more accustomed to eating.

I found a recipe for making a small batch of yogurt which only uses one quart of milk.  I had to try it.  You should too!  Jump on in!!  It is thick and delicious, just like you buy in the store!

I don't use any fancy yogurt maker or anything. I do like to "proof" my yogurt in the same jars that I will store it in as, to me, that leaves a denser, thicker yogurt (less stirring and moving it to another container to break it down). 

It will be easier for me to show you how I made Homemade Yogurt - AT HOME MY WAY:

Homemade Yogurt - Small Batch

Ingredients:
  • 1 quart (4 cups) pasteurized (NOT "ultra-pasteurized") milk (ultra pasteurized milk will not work so look for a local dairy or one that doesn't come very far to get to your store)  - I used organic, local milk that they sell in GLASS jars in the dairy section of my favorite small town grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (greek style or regular)
Items Needed:
  • 1 cooking thermometer
  • 1 vessel for keeping the jars warm (I used my crockpot insert) 
  • a small towel to nestle the jars in the crockpot 
  • a big beach or bath towel to wrap the whole thing in
  • 2 pint jars + 1 half pint jar, with lids

Directions:

I started with 2% milk and powdered milk like this:


Measure the milk (4 cups) and pour into a medium saucepan.  Add the powered milk (1/4 cup).  Mix well until dissolved:




Heat until the milk reaches 180 degrees (making sure not to touch the bottom of the pot with the thermometer to get an accurate reading), stirring occasionally so that nothing scorches:


Once this temperature is reached, remove the pot from the burner and place on a hotpad to cool until it reaches 110 degrees.  This took, for me, about 30 minutes:


(If your milk is less than 110 degrees, heat it up just a bit until it again reaches 110 degrees.) Once the milk is at 110, add:

1/4 cup of plain yogurt (I measured it and didn't need this entire container.  My lucky dog got the rest for a treat) (I had mine on the counter to bring to room temp so it wasn't so cold to add to the milk):


Stir, gently, to dissolve:



Pour into clean jars with lids.  (Since you added 1/4 cup of powdered milk and 1/4 cup of plain yogurt to the one quart of milk, you now need more jars than equals one quart, so in addition to two pints (= to one quart), I also used one half-pint jar for):



Nestle a thick hand towel in a large pot (I used my crockpot insert) and place the jars inside:



Cover with a lid and wrap the whole thing in a big towel (beach towel or bath towel). 

Take the chill off your oven by simply turning on the oven for about 10 seconds, but then turn it OFF!!  (MAKE SURE THE OVEN IS OFF!)

Place the wrapped pot inside, leave the light on so you don't forget this little package is inside there:



Let this sit in there for about five hours.  After five hours, uncover and check your yogurt.  If you tip the jars, the liquid should not move but should remain solid -  your yogurt is done.

Mine looked like this:


Place in the refrigerator once it's all done.  Mine lasts two or three weeks.  I use it as yogurt and in place of sour cream in all baked dishes or salad dressings.

Of course, I also made some delicious Perfect Granola to serve with my yogurt:



I even used some of my friends' delicious, homegrown strawberries (from my freezer) for my breakfast:





Homemade yogurt, homemade granola, and homegrown berries.  Mmmmm...  life is good!

 
Enjoy!
 
Gina


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Easy Peasy Parmesan Chicken in the Crockpot (Only 5 ingredients!)



One of my husband's favorite home cooked meals is Parmesan Chicken.  In fact, I think he could eat it once a week.  I started making Parmesan Chicken when I first got married.  Here we are as newlyweds.  We were pups! LOL.



Doug is SUPER picky!  He had never even tasted spaghetti when he married me! I have no idea how he ever got brave enough to try Parmesan Chicken but, I'm glad he did.  I usually ALWAYS make this dish for our anniversary.  (Hence the wedding photo LOL.)  We didn't have a stove for the first few months we were married but we did have a microwave (they were a new gadget in the 80's but we got one for a wedding gift!).  The recipe I started with was in the cookbook for the microwave.  (Only newlyweds would enjoy chicken cooked in a microwave (ick!)  but, we did. Ha!)

I usually make this in the oven (never the microwave anymore thankfully...)   In the original recipe you had to dip the chicken in an egg/water combination, then in the bread crumb/parmesan cheese mixture, back in the egg/water, and then again in the bread crumb mixture.  It was quite time consuming so we usually only had it on our anniversary.

Old age and practicality took over and I have shortened the process.  It works great.  Directions are a little different for baking in the oven.  I will post those another day.

This week I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it in the crockpot.  I told Doug, "I can't imagine that it could ever be bad enough that we wouldn't eat it, right?"  We loved it!  Super fast to ready in the morning and super easy.  I only use five ingredients!

Here's how I make Crockpot Parmesan Chicken AT HOME MY WAY:

Crockpot Parmesan Chicken
**only 5 ingredients**
  • Chicken (I use thawed boneless, skinless breast tenders) (In a quantity that your family will eat.  I use about six because we like leftovers but there are only two of us.)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (I use the green can.)
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce (I used home canned but use your favorite)
  • Mozzarella (grated)
Instructions:
(Use tongs to handle the chicken if you don't want too much mess.)
In a large baggie or pie plate, combine the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs:
Dredge the chicken a few pieces at a time in this mixture.  I used a baggie and just turned the bag all around to coat, like this:
Place the coated chicken pieces in the crockpot:
Dump on the jarred spaghetti sauce (large jar) (you can dump sauce on each layer of chicken if you are using a few layers of chicken):
Cook on LOW -8-10 hours in your crockpot (covered) (no mozzarella yet; you add that when it is fully cooked):
After you arrive home, go ahead and top with grated/shredded mozzarella.  Place the lid back on.  Start some pasta water.  We like to serve penne pasta with our Parmesan Chicken.  By the time your pasta is done cooking, the cheese will be melted and you will be ready to eat!
Enjoy!
Gina


Do you enjoy using your crockpot!

More of my crockpot recipes are
found

HERE!

Scroll through and find some that 
work for your family!

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