Monday, June 23, 2014

Frozen French Fries - Loaded - Cooked on the Grill - WHAT?


Rebecca wanted to try a recipe for making loaded (frozen) french fries on the grill the other night.  These turned out WONDERFUL so I had to put them on my blog.  We served them with shish kabobs, which we also made on the grill. 


We often bake our french fries.  We hardly ever fry anything anymore so if we have crinkle cut fries, I usually bake them on a cookie sheet.  Our temps here in mid Missouri have been approaching 90 so I really wanted to keep all of the cooking outside if possible.


Cooking frozen french fries on the barbecue grill sounded a little far fetched.  I couldn't imagine it (but it was on Pinterest so it had to work LOL)!  My fear was that they wouldn't get done at all ...but when your kid gets excited about cooking something and wants to do it all HERSELF, who am I to argue?  Not me!  Not only did these loaded fries get done, they were divine smothered in cheese, bacon, and green onions.  We topped that already over-the-top side with sour cream- YUM.  Healthy?  Not so much.  But DELICIOUS?  Yes! And it kept all the cooking outside for supper so that was something too, right?


These would be great tailgate food or appetizers!  I'm just sayin'..


Here's how we made Frozen French Fries (loaded) on the Grill - AT HOME MY WAY:



Frozen French Fries (loaded)
on the Grill

  • Frozen fries (we used crinkle cut)
  • Butter/Margarine (1 Tablespoon per packet.)
  • Seasonings (salt/pepper/onion powder/seasoning salt- your choice)
  • Foil
  • Toppings (we used grated sharp cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, bacon)
  • Sour cream (to be added at the table) (optional)
Instructions:

(NOTE:  We put these on the grill BEFORE THE MEAT so that we were sure they were going to get done.)

Tear off a sheet of foil .  Place one or two servings of fries (frozen) in the center of each foil "packet".  Sprinkle on seasonings. Make little foil bowls around the fries - not sealing but leaving open on the top.  Cut the margarine into small cubes and place all around on the fries.  

Place the packets on indirect heat on the hot barbecue grill and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes or until fries look done.  

Sprinkle with green onion slices, bacon, cheese.  Let heat until melted.

Can add sour cream at the table.



I shared this post AT (come ON OVER to find LOTS of great ideas):


A Bright and Beautiful Life


Enjoy!



Gina



Monday, June 16, 2014

Ditch the Box - Homemade Cold Cereal / Granola



I used to pretty much think you only ate granola sprinkled on things.  I like to eat it sprinkled on yogurt, on Homemade Yogurt Parfaits, and applesauce, or for snacking by the handful - but but then I read on a blog somewhere about eating it with milk, in a bowl, like boxed cereal.  Duh... I'm not sure why that never occurred to me but I am so glad I tried it.  It's super delicious!

You know how cereal commercials always go on and on about their products not getting soggy in milk?  Well, homemade granola NEVER gets soggy.  And there's no weird ingredients to keep it from getting soggy.  Just good old fashioned homemade goodness like toasted oats and nuts that don't get soggy anyway. 

I actually stopped buying cold cereal years ago  and subbed into our breakfast options things like Chocolate Chip/Blueberry Muffins, Frozen "Toaster" French Toast, homemade smoothies, toast, and things like that.  I actually was a big cold cereal fan.. and not the healthy stuff.  I favored things like Crunch Berries, Cocoa Puffs, and Sugar Smacks (eek! LOL).  But I love this just as well!  Seriously! I sometimes crave a bowl of cereal with icy cold milk, especially when the weather heats up - so I was tickled to try homemade granola and milk as a homemade cold cereal.

My favorite way to eat granola as cold cereal is with dried blueberries.  I get these at my local Walmart.  Dried blueberries aren't as dry as raisins.  They still offer lots of juicy blueberry punch!  I also like sliced bananas in my cold granola/milk.

This post is not a new recipe.  This is the same Perfect Granola recipe that I have always made.  (I look forward to trying some recipes for chocolate granola because I really love chocolate cold cereal, but I haven't found a recipe I'm sold on just yet.)  

Here's how I DITCHED THE BOX of cold cereal and make Homemade Cold Cereal - Perfect Granola AT HOME MY WAY:


PERFECT GRANOLA - cold cereal

  • 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)
Instructions:

In a small pot, mix brown sugar, oil and honey.  Bring to a low bowl.  

Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

In a large bowl, mix oats/nuts.  

Pour heated liquid ingredients over.  Stir well.

Spread coated oats/nuts into a 10 x 13 pan (I use a broiler pan for this.  I either spray it with cooking spray first or use a sheet of parchment paper - which I fold up and reuse over and over each time I make granola.)

Bake at 375° (make sure the oven is fully preheated) for 10 minutes. 

Take out and stir.

Return the pan to the oven.  Turn oven off. 

Let sit in the off oven until golden brown (stir occasionally) - another 20 minutes or so.  Remove it from the oven if it looks like it's getting too toasty.

Let cool before mixing in any dried ingredients, fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

I store mine in a glass jar.  It keeps for a month,. at least.



Enjoy!




Gina




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Homemade Baby Gifts - Burp Cloths/Burp Rags



Seems like everyone I know is having babies!  And there is no better sewing project than a baby gift.

I made these burp cloths (we call them "burp rags" LOL) for my niece.  She had her baby in January.  I have gotten lots of complements on these and since they were so well received, I wanted to post a picture.  


I have also made another set of burp cloths/rags for another niece who was pregnant (and has since had HER baby).  I see the parents and grandparents giving these burp rags lots of use so I know they are handy and durable!


The first pinterest pins I saw for burp cloths were made with cloth diapers and I was going to make those because they were also adorable.... but I saw how much $$$ cloth diapers cost.  Adding the cost of the fabric.  Eek!  I was THRILLED to see this pin for making them out of flannel or cotton and a new bath towel.  I loved the idea.  


The towel I bought was less than $4 at Walmart.  Woo hoo! Lots cheaper than cloth diapers.


I found the instructions at a blog called Life, Crafting, and Substitute Teaching. The post and instructions are HERE.


Tabitha's burp rags look way  more professional than mine. They are such pretty colors and I just love them.  I found a very limited selection of flannel at our local Hobby Lobby and I got my fabric there.  I have since discovered the MOTHERLOAD of flannel at JoAnn's Fabrics (which I LOVE)!  A few weeks later I found a local Quilt Shop in our area.  Holy Toledo!  I love shopping for fabric!


Anyway, Read Tabitha's WONDERFUL instructions. Her pictures are so helpful.  I didn't make my burp cloths the exact same size as hers.  I altered the size just a little to get nine equal sized burp cloths out of the bath towel.  But the idea is the same.


(Make sure you press after turning them.  That makes top stitching so much easier.)  I used a zigzag stitch for my top stitching and they look pretty snazzy!  My new sewing machine even has fancier stitches so I can't wait to make the next batch.


These make a terrific gift for new moms!  You can roll them up and tie them with ribbon for a great presentation.  I placed mine in a new covered rubbermaid container for gifting.  No one can ever have enough of those things!


NOTE:  My sister-in-law even mentioned that she was going to make some of these for the patients at her mom's nursing home, using adult fabrics, etc.  What a wonderful idea!


Here's how I made Burp Cloths out of a bath towel AT HOME MY WAY:



Burp Cloths from a Bath Towel

  • 3/4 yard each of two patterns of flannel (cotton will also work but flannel keeps from sliding off of your shoulder) (I bought a little extra fabric than Tabitha called for since I live a LONG way from a fabric store.)
  • 1 regular size new bath towel 
  • Thread
  • Scissors
Instructions:

Cut the towel into pieces the size for your burp cloths.  I first cut the towel into strips to equal even thirds.  I then cut each strip into three burp cloths.

Cut flannel the exact same size as each burp cloth.

Pin together - right sides together.

Sew, leaving an opening at one end to turn.

Trim corners and turn.  

Press, pinning the opening.

Top stitch all the way around.

Ta-da!  You're done!


Enjoy!



Gina


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ditch the Box - Homemade Rice-a-Roni- Chicken



I tried a new recipe for Homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni the other night.  It was a COMPLETE SUCCESS!  This stuff was straight on just as good as the boxed kind.  Ditch the box!  I'll never buy a box of Rice-a-Roni again!  What's better is that you can mix up most of the ingredients and make a homemade Rice-a-Roni mix that you can keep in your pantry.  I'm loving that!  Saves money and better for you!






Rice-a-Roni is something that I love.  My mom never made anything out of a box except pudding and jello so I didn't discover my love for all things Rice-a-Roni until I got married and we started going to BBQs at our friends' houses.  One of our friends always brought a big fluffy dish of Rice-a-Roni and I could never get enough.


I found this recipe on a favorite blog - Chickens in the Road.  Suzanne makes all kinds of wonderful things at home that most people buy in the store.  I found this recipe on her Farm Bell recipes.  When I was seeking out a recipe to try for this dish I knew that I could depend on anything I found on her site.  


Sometimes I have homemade chicken broth in the freezer but this week I didn't.  So instead I used two chicken bouillon cubes  plus 2 cups of water to make the chicken broth called for in this recipe.  This was not the healthiest way to do it - I don't know what's in chicken bouillon cubes, but it was the cheapest, especially since I already had chicken bouillon cubes in my pantry.  Those things are great meal starters!


Remember that one of the best parts about Rice-a-Roni is having a box of the stuff ready to cook in your pantry.  Just having this recipe in your repertoire will not make it as handy as actually having the mix.  So mix up an extra batch - in a canning jar or in a zip type baggy, and you will be ready to go.  You could even include the two wrapped bouillon cubes in the jar/baggy so that the only ingredients you need to add would be water and butter/margarine - which by the way are also the only ingredients required to make a box of Rice-a-Roni.


Here's how I made Homemade Rice-a-Roni-Chicken AT HOME MY WAY:



Homemade Rice-a-Roni Mix
(Chicken)

Dry ingredients:  (Combine in a jar or sealable baggy)
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice (NOT minute rice)
  • 1/2 cup broken thin spaghetti or angel hair (less than 1 inch)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken base (granulated)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper, optional
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon (ONLY if not using real chicken broth) 
Additional ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons margarine/butter
  • 2 cups water (if using 2 chicken bouillon cubes) or 2 cups of real chicken broth
Directions:  (these are the same as on the box of Rice-a-Roni)  

If not using real chicken broth, first make 2 cups of broth using the 2 chicken bouillon cubes & water).  (I heat the water & bouillon cubes in a glass measuring cup in the microwave until the cubes dissolve-stir well.)

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter/margarine in a skillet.  Dump all dry ingredients (except bouillon cubes) into the skillet and stir/cook for approximately one minute until pasta is turning barely a little brown.  (Don't forget to stir!) Add the chicken broth.  Stir well.

COVER, stirring occasionally (especially right after it starts cooking) - COOK on low/medium - just simmering- 18 - 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice/pasta looks fluffy.  
(NOTE:  If the rice isn't fully cooked and it appears dry, add a small amount of water (1/4 cup) and continue cooking with a lid a little longer.)

Remember to include the list of additional ingredients and directions on your mix.



Options after cooking:
  • Adding some cooked vegetables (I like mixed vegetables but mushrooms would be great  or cooked zucchini, squash, etc. or even canned beans-drained) would make this go even farther!
  • You could also add cooked chicken to the rice and make it a main dish.  (I grew up eating Cuban chicken & yellow rice and adding cooked chicken would make this very similar.)

Enjoy!


Gina

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunday Game Plan Cooking - 6-8-14

This Sunday's Game Plan cooking involved trying a new recipe and making lots of old ones.  I find that repeat posting these on my blog is a good thing.  Sometimes its nice just to see what I'm cooking and it's always good to have a reminder of successful recipes.

As always, my mission for Sunday cooking involves making ahead some freezer lunches for the coming week, getting a game plan for breakfasts, and browsing the contents of the freezer so that I have a menu in mind for supper ideas.  

This weekend was especially successful at avoiding restaurants and saving money.  I find that weekends I am the most tempted at eating out but I made most everything we ate all weekend.  

Friday night I helped my sister-in-law and her family get ready for a garage sale.  They ordered Casey's pizza (which is my favorite take-out pizza these days) so I did have that for supper but it was their treat for all the work we hammered out that night so it didn't cost me anything.

Saturday morning I was up before the sun headed out to the garage sale.  Before I left the house, I baked two batches of muffins - one chocolate chip and the other blueberry. 



 I used my favorite Plain Muffin recipe.  These went over great!  It poured down rain for our sale and so we had to shut the doors.  We were entertained by my niece's new baby and toddler son (as well as by  by muffin eating) while waiting on the few garage salers who were brave enough to shop in the rain.

My daughter got me a yogurt maker in a thrift store and I gave it a try on Sunday.  I tried my hand at making a few jars of plain and blueberry flavored, sweetened, yogurt.  I'm not sure I have the flavored yogurt just right.  I used my small batch yogurt recipe found HERE.  Here they are!  I had some with a little bit of Perfect Granola this morning and it was pretty good!



  
I made homemade pizza for lunch with some 5-Minute-a-Day dough that I had in the fridge.  I made a half recipe of the dough.  With that dough I made a large pizza:



(This time I prebaked the crust for about 10 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.  Delicious! ) 

And I also used the remainder of the dough to make four Homemade Pizza Pockets for the freezer (to pack for lunches).  This is not the picture of the hot pockets I made but is the picture for the Hot Pocket post  (my husband LOVES these for lunch):



I made a batch of sandwich bread dough in my bread machine for making Homemade Pigs in the Blanket.  We LOVE these for packing in lunches.  They took hardly no time at all to put together since the dough came from the bread machine and I was able to freeze 12 Pigs in a Blanket from one batch of bread dough:




My husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary yesterday.  I usually make Parmesan Chicken on our anniversary but since we had pizza/saucy for lunch, we grilled some chicken.  I decided to make a marinade for the chicken and used my Homemade Italian Dressing recipe for this.  I included the mayo called for in the recipe to give it a little bit of body helping it cling to the chicken better.  It turned out awesome!  I only used a portion of this so I have the rest to use on salads this week (maybe make pasta salad with the leftover grilled chicken?).  Double plus!




My husband only wants potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes as side dishes.  He doesn't really care for noodles and flat refuses to try rice.  But I LOVE RICE!  I decided to try a recipe I saw for Homemade Chicken Rice - A - Roni!  It turned out terrific so I mixed up another set of ingredients for another day and put it in my pantry.  I'll post the recipe later this week.  This was a complete success and I will never again by boxed Rice-A-Roni:



For dessert, I made a small Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.  I cut the recipe in half and made it in a casserole dish since it's just my hubby and me at home.  I replaced the water in this recipe with cold coffee which gave the cake its dark, rich color!  I'll probably post this half recipe sometime because it's mighty handy to have around.  This cake is a snap to mix up and is our family's favorite!




It seems like I spent all day in the kitchen, but I didn't!  I got some weeding done outside, washed and hung my sheets out on the clothesline.  Did some more laundry, and played a LOT with my daughter's new kitty (who spent the weekend with us).  This is Cami on her way home.  Isn't she funny?  She looks out the car window just like a dog:



Have a good week!




Gina

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Peach Cobbler 1-2-3 - Pantry Cooking



I remember eating this recipe for peach cobbler a LOT when I was growing up.  It seems like we always had dessert - a couple of times a week anyway.  We ate lots of chocolate pudding on homemade biscuits; chocolate cakes, and this recipe for peach cobbler.

This recipe is a dump type recipe (but no cake mix is involved).  It turns out ooey-gooey and just wonderful!  I love it hot or cold.  When I was little I remember loving the gooey dough part the best, but now I love it all!  

This is an easy recipe to throw together while you are cooking supper.  It bakes in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.  I think my mom even made this with fruit cocktail, which would also be delish, or even canned and pitted plums, which I want to try.  But we usually just had it with canned peaches.  

When I made this recipe recently, I used my own home canned peaches (one pint jar).  

Here's how I make Peach Cobbler 1-2-3 AT HOME MY WAY:


Peach Cobbler 1-2-3

  • 1 15 oz can of peaches in light syrup or juice (drain half of juice off)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar (or a little less if you like)
  • 1 cup self rising flour
  • 1/2 stick margarine/butter
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°.  

  1. Place an 8 x 8 square pan, or medium casserole dish in the oven with the stick of margarine/butter in it until it melts.  Remove from oven.
  2. In separate bowl, mix milk, sugar, flour and blend until smooth.  Dump batter over the melted butter/margarine (do not stir).
  3. Drain half of the juice off the can of peaches and spoon the peaches & remaining juice over the batter.  Do not stir!

Bake in preheated 350° for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Serve warm.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Here are some pictures of the process:


The peaches.  Ready for business!


I melted the margarine in the oven in the casserole dish.


This shows the batter was added to the margarine, and then the peaches were spooned over.  NO STIRRING!


The batter will puff up as it bakes surrounding the fruit pieces like this.


All done!  Come and get it!




Enjoy!


Gina



Monday, June 2, 2014

Sunday Game Plan - 6/1/14



On Sundays, I generally spend some time getting ready for the week ahead.  I hang my sheets on the clothesline, clean out the fridge, finish any odd ball laundry that might be needed and assess the items I have in my pantry for a menu plan.  I also try to prepare some items for the week's breakfasts, lunches, snacks. I've noticed that if I don't have something handy, I'm terribly tempted by such things as McDonalds, Pizza Hut delivery, blizzards from Dairy Queen, packages of Oreos from Walmart, or candy bars.  I never like to go to bed on Sunday nights without knowing what options I have for breakfast and lunch.  Mondays are hard enough without leaving the house empty handed.

We had some beautiful weather in mid Missouri this past weekend and I was tempted to spend most of the day outside, but I managed to throw a few things together for the upcoming week.


Here's my Sunday Game Plan - 6/1/14 at AT HOME MY WAY:



Sunday Game Plan - 6/1/14

  • The first thing I did that morning was that I took some hamburger out of the freezer for Sunday supper.  I had spaghetti on my mind.  Later in the afternoon I started a pot of Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.  I just cooked hamburger for the sauce (didn't make meatballs) and cooked the sauce on top of the stove until thick.  I served the sauce with hot, buttered spaghetti pasta, and used some leftover, stale hotdog buns to make garlic toast.
  • I baked some homemade chocolate cookies using THIS RECIPE:

  • I made some Homemade Chicken Salad using a similar recipe to my Homemade Ham Salad.  I just cooked a couple of pieces of chicken in a skillet, covered, with a small amount of water, let the water cook out until the chicken was browning and fully cooked.  Then chopped the meat in my little chopper and mixed with mayo and lots of sweet relish.  I hope to add grapes, celery, eggs in the future, but this is all I had an in its present state this chicken salad will be a great addition to my lunch bag:

  • While I was looking around on my favorite blogs, I saw a recipe for a Tart Lemon Icebox Pie.  Doesn't icebox pie just sound like something wonderful to have for summer desserts?  It is yummy but I want to do a little tweaking before I post the recipe:  

  •   I also cleaned out my fridge and tried to organize my freezer a little bit.  I had about three scoops of ice cream left in a container in my freezer, so I decided to take a couple of the chocolate chip cookies and make chocolate chip icecream sandwiches with them.  I've always wanted to make these but the work involved in making the cookies and then assembling the icecream sandwiches seemed like a bunch of work to do all at once.  It wasn't!  Since I had the cookies on hand already, these were a breeze to put together.  I'm also going to remember this little idea any time I have little bits of icecream and/or cookies that are just about to go stale.  These look so yummy and I am sure they will keep me out of Dairy Queen:

  • I decided the last time I threw away a whole crisper full of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and cucumbers that the next time I bought fresh vegetables, I would go right home and CUT IT UP.  We love fresh vegetables at our house but who likes to have to make all that mess when you are looking for a healthy snack?  I came right home from the store, cut up the vegetables, and mixed up some dip using this Homemade Ranch Mix.  I also discovered the key to making good dip.  Get a good, quality sour cream!  It makes all the difference.  I bought Daisy brand:

There are a few things I DIDN'T get done.  I wanted to make some Homemade Yogurt, but that didn't make the cut.  Also wanted to make a loaf of Homemade Sandwich Bread, but didn't get that done either.  Ah well... tomorrow is another day!

So far I have leftover spaghetti and sauce, veges and dip, cookies, ice cream, a pie, some deli turkey, roast beef, and cheeses for sandwiches.  My freezer is full of meat; I have basic pantry ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs.  I have no excuses for eating yummy stuff at home. Truly I am richly blessed!

Enjoy!


Gina



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