Category Archives: Recipes

Stephen King + beans & franks.

Lately I’ve been on a Stephen King mini-obsession & devouring one book after another. I have read his novels in the past & used to own a ton of hardcovers; my introduction to King began with a tattered copy of Pet Semetary that I was lucky enough to find at a flea market when I was about 13 years old…it literally terrified the crap out of me & still sends shivers up my spine to this day. It is one of my favorite books of all time. King is typically classified as a horror genre author, and yes, most of the novels I’ve read do have that scary/horror/creepy element to them, however they are well-rounded stories & not just horror. I think there is probably a big slice of readers out there who are missing out on an excellent author simply because he is classified as “horror” & those people don’t like scary stories/don’t want to be scared. That’s how I am…I don’t particularly care for out-and-out horror or sci-fi books usually but I discovered that King is so much more when I just gave some of his other novels a chance after Pet Semetary. In other words, more people should try them…they’d probably end up liking them. I personally really enjoy his writing style, language, character creations, plots, etc.

image
This is exactly what my much loved, tattered copy looks like, minus the creases & blemishes. This book will send shivers up your spine!

One of the things I like about his writing is how he includes minute, everyday details, such as what a character had for dinner. It makes the story more realistic & also gives me inspiration for the kitchen! I’m currently reading Salem’s Lot, one of his classics. In the chapter I was just in, he tells you that the characters are having traditional “beans and franks” for dinner, and gives you clues about the ingredients and the process (and I quote: “It was Thursday night, and the meal was traditional–beans and franks. Bill Norton grilled the franks on the outdoor grill, and Ann had had her kidney beans simmering in molasses since nine that morning.”, chapter 5), which is uber-helpful when you’re like me & go scouring the internet for some old-timey similar sounding recipe. Many of the recipes I found said to use navy beans but I wanted to do it Stephen King’s way. I also have a great interest in trying “classic” recipes from other areas, and from the way it sounds, this is a traditional New England-area dinner/meal; and King should know since that’s his home territory & also the place setting for a majority of his books.

image
This is the version I'm reading via ebook, one of my most favorite inventions ever.

So, after searching and searching I finally found a recipe that I’m going to try. It’s the one I felt was closest to how King described it & the website claims it’s old. I haven’t made it yet so I can’t reveal any results or opinions on the recipe process or outcome, but I figured one more blog/link to this traditional dish couldn’t hurt & possibly would make it easier for others to find…others like myself, who enjoy going off on food whims suggested by horror novels (despite my speech earlier about King being much more than a horror-genre author, Salem’s Lot is a “scary story”). I’m not sure what sides to have with this–and Mr. King provided no suggestions!–but some sort of toast and/or rolls sounds good…that way you can sop up any juices. Of course veggies are always good, or fruit, or even salad.

I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s site…I enjoy her recipes, have made a few before, and I also really like how she explains everything in detail accompanied with photos. The only thing I’d tweak is the fact that she uses navy beans; I’m planning on using kidney beans, simply because that’s what King described & I’m trying to maintain “authenticity”. Personally, I think either bean would be okay & it comes down to your preference as well as what you have on hand (again, for me, kidney beans win because I’ve already got them)…either or. I would retype the recipe & make my blog look all efficient and thorough and nice…but alas, I’m lazy & let’s face it: her blog looks 20x better than mine ever could, so I’ll just link it. You can find a (undoubtedly good) recipe for Traditional New England Beans & Franks here. If you make ’em, stop back but here & lemme know how they turned out & what you thought! Like all bloggers–well-known or unknown–I love feedback and comments.

image
Note: this photo is *not* from the Pioneer Woman's site, I just liked it & decided to use it.

And after you try the recipe, try some Stephen King too…I highly recommend any of these:

*Pet Semetary (!!!)
*The Shining (!!!)
*Carrie
*Misery
*Dolores Claiborne
*Cujo (!!)
*Green Mile series
*IT (!!)
*Needful Things
*Rose Madder

The (!!!) indicate my favorite-favorites; also, many of these have been made into movies or mini-series so if you’re not a big reader there is always that option, just remember that most movies don’t include every last detail from the book & may not be quite as good. Just saying. I can, however, guarantee that The Shining and Pet Semetary are excellent books AND movies. And of course the list of his works is about triple the size of my list above, so you’re bound to find something you like. Just try it.

image
The great Stephen King...I've always thought he looks like my Dad, haha...and he does.

Decepti-cookies! I mean…my sugar cookie adventure.

The other day I was in the mood for some sugar cookies which usually equates a long, drawn out ordeal because you have to roll & “powder” everything with flour & bake but wait you’re still not done because now you have to decorate them because we all know icing-less sugar cookies taste like ass. We’re in a period of transition right now, which in turn means most of our useful possessions are packed away & buried, impossible to find on a whim. Therefore my undertaking of sugar cookie baking was made even more difficult because I had no rolling pin. Or, for that matter, a recipe to go by (yes, my trusty recipe files are also packed away); never fear-there’s always the internet. I looked up an easy recipe that had lots of positive reviews, cute lil gold stars, delicious looking photos & didn’t require a lot of ingredients (which is always a clincher for me). My original intent was to pop out some sugar cookies (hereafter known as SC in this post because I’m tired of typing it out), decorate them & post the recipe links & photos, as usual when I make something scrumptious.

Except these cookies didn’t turn out scrumptious. And it’s not my fault (I don’t guess…)! Middle kid & I followed the directions to a T, even storing the dough in the freezer overnight (as the recipe recommended) despite the fact I was in the mood to make them right then. Anyway, the next day, we rolled them out (using a sealed bottle from the pantry…yep, that’s how thrifty we can be; it actually worked quite well) & cut circles (using a Mason jar ring but-you guessed it!-all of my cookie cutters are packed away; the jar ring actually worked quite well too though the cookies were a tad large; it’s awesome being southern & having handy crap like Mason jar lids lying around) in the dough-which we taste tested & it was good!-then baked them. Now, usually I’m a terrible cookie baker…even when I use a timer. It’s almost as if it’s just not in my genetic makeup to produce yummy cookies (which is why every holiday I do the cooking & my sister does the baking-there is a difference, people, between “cooking” & “baking”) so I was completely anal about these, checking on them & pulling them out when they looked their best & were turning a light brown; as the recipe advised, might I add. Cookies cooled, Oldest kid & I mixed up a glaze (using a recipe from the same site) that tasted like doughnut glaze-aka good-then proceeded to decorate these masterpiece SC!

image
Meet my rolling pin stand-in, the bottle with brown liquid inside.

image
Usung a top layer of plastic wrap helped cut down on the mess.
image
Beautiful Mason jar circles & something I'm calling "sugar drops". (Aka: dough rolled into a ball, rolled in sugar.)
image
Sugar drop close-up. These lil babies are pretty tasty!

I gotta admit, I was so frigging excited! I mean, my failure as a cookie baker is to the extent that C makes way way better cookies than I ever could. These suckers looked good! The dough had been good, the icing was good, they weren’t burnt. Win, win, win. We finally got to take that victorious “I’ve spent way too much time on this so let’s try one already dammit” bite and…

image
These got browned a tad more than I meant to; I wasn't thinking about them being smaller. :/ BUT-the circle cookies were lighter than these, so surely they couldn't be overcooked?!

image
You can see the level of brown-ness on the circle cookie & it (deceptively) looks perfecto.

It was like trying to bite pavement.
This cookie wasn’t gonna give; it would not break.
You could chuck one of ’em at somebody’s head & they’d at least suffer a concussion from it.
My disappointment was overwhelming. All that time, work, hope…I know, I know: it’s just cookies. But it still sucks. So I’ve decided not to share the links; not because I’m being petty & spiteful (“Waahh my cookies are harder than steel so I won’t share your site”), it’s because I’m not going to offer out a recipe that I can’t stand behind. Now, it’s entirely possible that *I* did something to cause this cookie travesty…too much dough kneading? too much flour? Which is why more testing is required; the recipe was easy & doesn’t take everything under the sun, so I’d like to add it to my files; if I can eliminate the problem.

I will however include the glaze icing recipe so that your time here today won’t be a total waste; plus it’s good, extremely easy & versatile.

Glaze Icing
1 c. Powdered sugar
4 tsp. Milk
Mix in small bowl with a fork until sugar is completely dissolved. If you want it thinner add more milk, if you want it thicker add more sugar. Any additions are recommended to be made 1 teaspoonful at a time, to prevent a mad scientist type of situation. My helper & I put some in bags, added some color, mixed it up well then cut the corner of the bag off (just a tiny piece!) to decorate. This icing does not make a lot by the original recipe so feel free to double if you’ve got a lot to ice. One last thing: wait for the icing to dry/set up before you stack & pack your cookies. It doesn’t take long; if you’re anything like me, leaving the cookies exposed to people walking through the kitchen (ie: stirring up dirt & hair, stealing cookies-boy they’ll get a surprise with these!) will drive you batshit but it’s gotta be done, otherwise you’ll have a gooey glued together cookie mound.

image
Icing/glaze close-up, still wet.

image
We used a knife to cut some shapes pre-baking.
image
Oldest child did blue, I did green.
image
Random.
image
I really like Mr. Mad Face; he happened by accident.

So, not a total loss. Didn’t get a keeper SC recipe (yet) but acquired a new icing one. These cookies totally need to be renamed though…like “Decepti-cookies”…or something. My cleverness has fled the building.

Meatball Cups outta thin air……

This evening I found myself in the kitchen, mentally twirling the recipe carousel in my mind, searching for something I could make for dinner. I had 1 lb. of ground beef to work with. I’ll spare you all the boring details of what ideas were turned down because I lacked the ingredients (yes, I am way overdue to go actual grocery shopping)…eventually I landed on meatball cups.

What the hell is a meatball cup?! You ask.
A meatball cup is a fun way to convince your kids to eat meatloaf! It is a cheap go-to if you have a small amount of meat (like 1 lb,) & a big taste for meatloaf! It is an American classic with a modern twist & an interesting title that makes people wonder “What the hell is a meatloaf cup?!”. Simply put, it is meatloaf smashed into a muffin tin.
Here we go:

Meatloaf Cups
1 lb. ground beef (or more; 1 lb, only yields about 10)
breadcrumbs
1/4 c. milk (or water)
2 eggs (or egg whites)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
BBQ sauce (ahem, KC Masterpiece Honey bbq sauce is my recommendation) or ketchup, whichever you prefer
1-2 muffin pans, depending on how much meat you’re using.

Now first we need to get a couple things straight:
1) ground beef shrinks
2) you should basically make this meatloaf in the way you typically would. The only difference comes with the shaping-instead of making a mound of raw meat you’ll be separating it into portions. My meatloaf recipe varies depending on what I have on hand (although apparently I manage to keep good form: I’ll never forget the time my Aunt complimented me by saying that my meatloaf “actually held together” & that hers never did) so just do what you’re used to.

Anyway…for me, I throw my raw beef into a bowl, then I add a couple eggs (or just egg whites…a good thing to keep on hand is:
image

I know, it’s more of a “rich people” food but it comes in handy if you’re like me & forget to buy eggs but then you need one here or there; I have no idea how much this stuff is or where it can be found, this is courtesy of our house-mate), I add my spices-usually garlic & onion powders, seasoned salt, regular salt & pepper-then I start mixing it all together. If it seems a little “off” I’ll add a touch of water (or milk) here & there as needed. I also just eyeball the breadcrumbs…I could be wrong about this but the breadcrumbs serve to suck up the grease and to stretch the meat, so I add enough to cover those jobs but not so much that I’ll end up with a loaf of bread in the end.

Still with me? For some reason this post seems even more discombobulated than my posts usually do; Maybe because it’s been a lot of stop-go-stop-go. Thanks for hanging in there!

Okay, now once you’ve gotten your hunk of meatloaf mixed, take a normal dinner-ware sized spoon, scoop out some meat mix & start filling those muffin cups. Some meatloaf cup recipes end up putting mashed potatoes on the top but I’m going the quick & easy (read: lazy) route today; we’ll be topping these with BBQ sauce. Remember: ground beef shrinks (unless you can afford the fancy-schmancy lean beef…kidding, kidding) so don’t gip your eaters with the cups. I managed to get (almost) 11 & a couple were on the smaller side but hey, everybody ate dammit. You should end up with something like this:

image
Yes, I did bbq all of them...

Next I pour some BBQ sauce into a measuring cup-so I don’t make a mess & the whole bottle plops out & drowns the meat-cups-and use the same spoon I scooped with to put enough sauce to cover each top. For those of you obsessed with measurements, I’d figure it’s about 1-2 Tbsp, if that. Place in a 350° oven for…about 30 minutes. I’m truly sorry; for me, cooking is something of a second nature now & I’m always forgetting to jot important info like times & measurements down so that I can input them on the blog. I just cooked mine until they were done, checked on them a couple times. You end up with:
image
Ta-da! The dinner I pulled out of thin air.

A closer look at the meatloaf cup:
image
They were delish! Granted I wish I would’ve had more meat so we could’ve had more cups, but the basis of this recipe was working with what I had on hand (I still have not been to the store! I definitely don’t get the Mom-of-the-week award this week…)

On a side note, I’ve heard of people using sour cream in their mashed potatoes to make them creamier. I happened to have a half a tub left so I decided to try it out as opposed to throw it out.
image
I honestly didn’t notice a taste or texture difference, however because you can’t taste the sour cream, that’s exactly why you should sneak it in if you have it on hand…everyone can use some extra vitamins & all that, so just sneak it in there without telling anyone . 😉

Thoughts are welcome, ALWAYS.

Alert: it’s apparently still winter. (So bring on the vegetable soup!)

Unbeknownst to me, it is still winter. I was fooled into thinking spring had finally sprung when we had those glorious few days of warm, sunny, breezy weather. I broke out my flip-flops (well, not really…I never really packed them away but no, I didn’t walk through snow in them-what kind of dummy do you think I am?) & the kids ran free without jackets. It was a wonderful time, full of laughter and smiles and hopes for a plethora of sunshiny days ahead.

And now this.

image

Admittedly, not the best snow picture ever. 2 things you should know about this photo: #1 It was not taken at night (unfortunately the camera fairy still hasn’t blessed me with a dslr); #2 There is a lot more snow than depicted. Not mountains, or even enough to coat the roads, but it’s flurrying hardcore (which is actually pretty if also unwanted).

Of course the kiddos were out today-news I relished at 6 a.m. when I realized I didn’t have to get up but somehow that news loses it’s charm halfway through the day & after 45 “Can I….?”.

image

This latest snow assault puts me in the mood for something warm & filling for dinner. I’m hoping (if I can get C to go get the stuff) to turn to a family classic, my Mom’s Vegetable Soup. It holds a special place in my heart not only because it came from my momma, but also because it was the first thing I made C & I when we first started out; and because my sister asked me for the recipe, which makes me feel useful, traditional & generally warm-n-fuzzy. The list of great things about this recipe is not short:
*it’s cheap
*it’s easy
*it’s super versatile
*it’s freezable
*it’s comforting
*it’s semi-healthy
*it’s tasty
*it appeals to different taste buds
I could keep going but you’re probably bored to tears. This soup can be whatever you want it to be, really. You can use whatever vegetables you like, whatever meat you prefer; you can make it more tomato-y or more beefy tasting; you can make it overloaded with veggies or just a few. It’s totally customizable for those who are looking to start their own traditional family soup recipe.

Judy’s Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 lg (or 2 small) bag frozen mixed vegetables (sometimes labeled as “soup mix”)
1 small onion, sliced or diced
2-4 beef bouillon cubes (depending on your taste…I like a lot)
1 can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato sauce
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Water, as needed

1) In a medium skillet cook the ground beef over med-high heat. While beef is cooking, in a large pot add vegetables, tomatoes, seasonings & water (the amount of water you use will determine how much soup you end up with). Drain grease from meat well.

image
Cooked, crumbled ground beef.

2) Add meat to soup pot; add salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste; put a lid on it & let it cook (aka turn fabulous) on low for one or two hours.
While cooking you can taste-test & add flavors accordingly. Since soup has so much water sometimes you have to add more seasonings than you’d normally use. Also, since it’s so versatile, you can add whatever would taste good to you:
Beef stock.
A ham bone.
Beans…cannellini (spelling?) or kidney or whatever!
You could use a different type of meat, like beef stew or cut up strip steak.
More tomatoes.
More vegetables.
Whatever…you…want.

image
All together. Kinda gross now but not for long!

When it’s done melding flavors, serve piping hot with peanut butter crackers or sandwiches. Mmm-mmm good!!

image
Dip that sandwich in & you're in 7th heaven!

image
PS…sorry for posting a pic of my ice foot after a pic of that deiciousness-in-a-bowl…I took it specifically for the blog & felt bad leaving it out. 😉

PPS…this is one of those recipes that’s even better the next day! If you believe in leftovers, that is.

PPPS….feel free to add some pasta (elbow, ziti, the ABC pasta if you’re lucky enough to find it, whatever’s in the cabinet), just wait until the soup is hot/completely reheated so you don’t overcook the pasta & then it turns to mush. You may have to add some extra water also, depending on how much your pasta sucks up.

PPPPS….this apparently also makes good chow for pugs & mixed breed cats! Our 3 cats & 1 pug thoroughly enjoyed the remaining soup after we had leftovers with it. So, you’re welcome for that little tip.

image
This princess currently has a furry belly full of warm, yummy, vegetable soup!

Stealing from other’s menus-Teriyaki Chicken Bowls

I am signed up for several different blogs/sites to send me their daily/weekly recipes & one of my favorites is Mommy’s Kitchen. The recipes usually meet my 3 goals:
Cheap
Easy
Tasty
I also use the monthly menu plans & various recipes to inspire our meals & get fresh ideas. In a way this could be considered stealing but then again that’s what they are meant for, so that sort of undermines the whole concept of stealing…you can’t “steal” what someone is giving you, eh?

Okay, so we recently tried:
Teriyaki Chicken Noodle Bowls & man were they good! I had gotten a huge pack of chicken leg quarters for $4, resigning myself to de-skinning/fatting/boning it all myself in order to save a few bucks (the prices on the packs of boneless skinless chicken are ridiculous!). Because of this, it took me awhile to make this but if you choose the easy route it shouldn’t take too long. This recipe is also versatile, which I like a lot; you can interchange the vegetables and/or pasta to whatever your favs are or whatever you have on hand. You can even switch out the noodles for quinoa or rice if you prefer. And let me just say…the leftovers the next day are delish! After the teriyaki sauce has had time to sink in?? Mmm-mmm! Click the Teriyaki Chicken link above (which takes you to another recipe site, not Mommy’s Kitchen, which you should still make sure to check out) for the full recipe with step-by-step instructions. Then, after you get your belly full, be sure to stop back by here & let me know your thoughts!!

image
My meat prep.
image
Look at that freshly deskinned shhhicken! 😉
image
Saute the mushrooms & onions; what an amazing smell!
image
Make sure to chop your veggies on the small side for easy eating.
image
My teriyaki sauce as it is cooking.
image
Almost finished!

I’m too much of a pig (& I’m compelled to eat when it’s hot) to remember to get photos of finished recipes, which is something I strive to remember but never fail to forget. No-finished-product-photo aside, just plop your noodles (or rice) in a bowl & top with the teriyaki chicken mixture, then enjoy!

Update
I just received a rare email from Kikkoman & there is a link to their version of a Teriyaki Shrimp Noodle Bowl; I thought I’d share it here because shrimp is amazing & it seems easy enough to make. You could double the teriyaki sauce you’re making, instead of using theirs. Just sayin’. Good luck!

*Updated & pics added!*Pizza Inn & California Pizza Kitchen copycat recipes: so good & so easy.

I couldn’t think of anything clever or cute to title today’s recipe post. “Super Saturday” would’ve worked but I like to tie in something about the recipe with the title. You know…”meat-y Monday”…the recipe was meaty…that sort of jinky stuff. So anyway, tonight we’re being copycats!

image

image
Interior dining room of a Pizza Inn

Growing up there was a restaurant in our town called Pizza Inn. They’re a small franchise primarily on the east coast (as far as I know). They offer a buffet & regular menu and have all kinds of yummy stuff to eat: pizza, pasta, desserts, salads, breadsticks. In my mind (because it was the first place I’d ever heard of such a thing) they pioneered the much loved pizzert: dessert pizza! I remember being a teenager & calling them up (on my own line-God was I fancy!) for delivery of a small black-olive-extra-cheese-light-sauce pizza just for me…I felt so grown up. If you’ve never heard of or been to a Pizza Inn, I highly recommend you seek one out immediately…or at least stop in there if one pops up during your travels. You are totally missing out! They don’t skimp on the cheese (or toppings), they don’t over-sauce (blehh), everything is always fresh & clean (they constantly mind the buffet) & they’re unique and original; which brings us to tonight’s recipe.

image
Buffet display. The BLT pizza is hanging out in the back, towards the top. Notice the hamburger pizza complete with pickles!
image
O. M. G. Some pizzerts-the best actually-cherry pie & chocolate chip!

I had many favorites growing up but my #1 had to of been their BLT pizza. I also loved regular ol’ mushroom & sausage, chicken fajita, pepperoni, & pretty much all of the pizzerts (cherry pie, chocolate chip, cinnamon struesel, some kind of cheesecake-like invention, chocolate pudding…ok, I’ll stop). As a child I couldn’t really figure out how the BLT pizza came to be, but I knew that because it’s a hot food item, the lettuce & tomato should’ve been limp & icky…but it wasn’t! Naturally, as an adult, the lightbulb has gone off & I realize it’s all done after the pizza cooks. (Duh!) Even the mayonnaise.

Yes. I said mayonnaise. You can’t have a BLT without mayonnaise, can you?? Some people don’t have the pickiness I do when it comes to mayo. Me personally, I have to be in the mood to be able to eat mayonnaise. Ridiculous, I know. But such is my life. SO! If you have the same affliction no worries…you won’t have to eat cooked mayo & you won’t use a lot of it.

image
A couple of reviews from my hometown Pizza Inn.

If you have any reservations I’m asking you to put them aside…this pizza is amazing if you give it a chance. I’ll admit, the only reason I ever tried it is because when I first saw it I thought it was a taco pizza (which they do have, incidentally, and is also good!)…I would’ve totally missed out on the yummy awesomeness if I’d known it had mayo, which is totally crazy!

image


Pizza Inn (copycat) BLT Pizza

1 cheese pizza (small/medium/large-your choice)
Wedge of lettuce, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 pkg bacon, cooked, crumbled/chopped
1 bag of cheese (your choice/mozzarella/pizza blend/etc) *optional
1/2 c. mayonnaise

1)  First, bake the pre-made cheese pizza according to package. When done remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
2)  Using a spatula or spoon spread a (thin, for me) layer of mayo over entire surface of pizza. You can use as much or as little as you like; the measurement is basically a reference.
3)  Evenly sprinkle lettuce, tomatoes, bacon (& cheese if using) over entire aurface.
4)  Cut the pizza with a pizza cutter or large knife, serve & enjoy!

In addition to the BLT pizza, I’m also going to make a copycat California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken pizza & Pizza Inn’s Chocolate Chip pizzert. Both recipes are super easy & don’t require much time or many ingredients.

For the CPK BBQ pizza, cook a pre-made cheese pizza (you can make pizza from scratch; using a pre-made is in the interest of saving time) then top with chopped, cooked BBQ chicken, sliced red onions & mozzarella cheese; pop back in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melted.

For the pizzert you need 1 can of Pillsbury thin pizza dough; lightly press it onto a pizza pan (Pizza Inn uses small, I use a cookie sheet); melt 1 stick of butter & add it to 1 pkg Jiffy cake mix, blend well; spread cake mix over dough making sure to reach the edges; sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 6 oz/half a bag) all over before baking at 400° for 11-15 minutes.

Like always….let me know if you try any of these & what you think!!

Update!
Okay y’all, it took me & the Middle child awhile but the end result was worth the wait! (It usually takes me awhile when trying a new & unfamiliar recipe because I get distracted easily so don’t worry…it probably won’t take you as long!) Here are some mouth watering pics for you to salivate over & be inspired to recreate in your kitchen!

image
Early stages of the chocolate chip pizzert...dough spread & cake mix being added.
image
Final step done: chocolate chips! (We added extra)
image
Bada-bing-bada-boom! It's done & smells fantastic!
image
It grew a bit more than I expected but that's ok...gives it character.
image
Some of the ingredients you'll need...good luck keeping your fingers outta the bacon!
image
Start with a regular ol' cheese pizza.
image
BBQ Chicken pizza (before additional cheese)
image
BBQ chicken pizza after 2nd run through the oven.
image
I know-grossest photo ever. BUT...if you can get through this step (pizza+mayo) you'll be rewarded with an awesome tasting pizza!
image
I believe in adding a lot of topping when we do homemade pizza, since the pizza places always skimp you.
image
Finished BLT pizza-ready to cut & eat!
image
2 of the overall 5 satisfied customers! The boy (who is notorious for not eating) said he loved the bbq pizza!

Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Technically any spaghetti can be called “Lady & the Tramp” spaghetti, but it’s one of my absolute favs from Disney so I thought I’d share the “official” Disney version. Plus the featured pictures are adorbs!

Disney’s Lady & the Tramp Spaghetti & Meatballs

If you try it, as always, let me know your thoughts!

Ranch House Chicken…you won’t believe how easy!

This recipe is one I recently received in one of my routine “recipe emails” & I’m pleased as punch (isn’t that a cute yet annoying saying?) that it meets my Big 3 (requirements):
      *Versatile: you can cook it via the oven or the crockpot
      *Easy: I managed to reduce it to 3 steps. Oh yea.
      *Cheap: less ingredients=less money…yay!

I like to give credit where credit is due, so here is where I got the recipe from. I’d hope-however-that you’d do the right thing &take pity on me for taking the time and making the effort to compose this post, and continue where you started…nice & cozy right here. 😀

Okie doke, let’s get to it!

image
Step 2: prepare your soup concoction.

Ranch House Chicken
1 pkg chicken pieces (I found a “variety pack” on sale & decided to save a couple cents by de-skinning the chicken myself; the pieces were legs & thighs; the original recipe suggests using 4-5 boneless & skinless breasts but I’m a cheapskate)

2 cans cream of mushroom/celery/potato/chicken/whatever you prefer soup

1/4 c. sour cream

1 pkg Ranch dressing mix

Oven Method:
      1-Remove skin from pieces then arrange chicken in casserole dish.

      2-In a medium bowl combine the soups, sour cream & 3/4 of the Ranch mix; stir well then pour evenly over each piece of chicken. (I ended up adding about 6 Tbsp of milk just to increase my liquid & loosen up the consistency a bit. Use your best judgement.) Sprinkle the remaining Ranch mix over all.

      3-Bake at 375° for about an hour (or until juices run clear) then serve & enjoy!

(Crockpot Method:
Everything is basically the same: put the chicken in first, then the soup mixture, etc; cook on low for 5-6 hours.)

I enjoyed the ease, overall cost & taste of this recipe…chicken is my “go-to” meat & there are gobs of chicken recipes out there. I felt like maybe next time I’ll double the Ranch mix because while it had a good taste it wasn’t necessarily a ranch taste. I didn’t include it in the recipe (hey, I’m proud of getting it down to 3 steps-I don’t wanna ruin it!) but I finely chopped some green onion & mixed it into the soup concoction; this would be totally your call…do you like green onions or not? While the original recipe suggest mashed potatoes & green beans (I think?) as sides–which does sound delish–we just had mashed potatoes so I subbed fried eggplant & cooked carrots.

image
Surprise--it's eggplant, not potatoes!

I’ve been wanting to try a simple fried eggplant recipe anyway! As usual, Allrecipes didn’t disappoint & (I’ll be honest) I was surprised…fried eggplant is gggooooooddd! I know, I know…eggplant…ick–what the hell?! It can’t possibly be good because it sounds so weird.
      Except it is.
I can’t explain it: it’s almost like squash. It wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. I got a huge one for $1.34 at Walmart so you should try it…at least if you don’t like it, it won’t of cost much so you won’t lose much. One of our family sayings is “Try new things one time” & I’m proud to report each little duck took a bite. Reviews were mixed but I think that’s due more to the odd name than the subtle taste.

image
Let's eat!

*Meat-Y Monday!*

You often see recipe blogs/posts/emails/articles entitled “meatless Monday” so I thought I’d do something a little different, albeit not much…

In defiance of meatless Monday, may I present…Meat-Y Monday!! I cook not exactly healthy mostly carnivore-ish recipes/meals & my family does enjoy their meat, so suffice it to say “meatless” is just not a term that fits comfortably in our mouths, much less with any semblance of regularity to where I would make various posts. Did that make sense?

Probably not. Moving on….

The recipe I’ve chosen for this 1st installation of meaty Monday is: meatball enchiladas . I chose this because:
1) It’s a new recipe from the latest Good Housekeeping that I wanted to try anyway.

2) It requires few ingredients, which = inexpensive to make.

3) I wanted to find a meal idea that would use up all/most of the leftover ingredients from taco salads last night. Fortunately this does.

I don’t have enchilada sauce but I do have 1 lone (yet humongous) tomato that I’m going to attempt to make ‘sauce’ out of, which I can then combine with a tiny can of Rotel that’s in the cabinet. I will have to make the meatballs myself but that’s okay, not a big deal. As for the tortillas we have a big pack leftover that I wanted to use because they’re good & not cheap.

Side Story: We have the tortillas because C can be quite a thoughtful husband & a few weeks ago he picked up a pack of those “as-seen-on-TV” tortilla bowl pans for me. I hadn’t had a chance to use them until last night, for taco salads.

image
$10....can't beat that!

The directions made them seem easy to use & they actually were! The tortillas practically situated themselves in the pans. The only minor complaint I have is that at the end of cooking they bubbled up; maybe my tortillas were too small? Maybe I should’ve poked each one with a fork prior to baking? Who knows….it was an easily solved problem, I just murdered poked the bubbles.
image
Look how cute they are!

image
Mmm....delicioso!

So, in my humble opinion, the Perfect Tortilla Pans are $10 well spent.

Anyway….I got sidetracked….I don’t have any photos of the meatball enchiladas as I haven’t made them yet but I will be sure to get some & update this post. Now I’m off to try my hand at this….we’ll see if this recipe is a keeper!

Without further ado–

MEATBALL ENCHILADAS
Yield: 4 servings
From: Good Housekeeping, February 2014

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 bag meatballs
8 corn tortillas
10 oz. enchilada sauce
2 c. mexican blend

Mix tomato sauce, chili powder & meatballs together in a large bowl. Fill the tortillas with this mixture, then place seam side down in a casserole dish. Top with enchilada sauce & cheese; bake at 400° for 30 minutes.

If you try this let me know your thoughts!

*UPDATED*
I laid each tortilla out then lined up meatballs, added a little sprinkle of cheese, then rolled ’em up! They turned out so good (& I’m such a dummy) that I didn’t think to get a picture of the final product before we scarfed them down!

image
I nestled them in a Pam'd casserole dish then alternated layers of cheese (I like a lot of cheese) & sauce on the top.

Classic Southern Lemonade (Is there any other kind worth drinking?!)

Every summer for the past couple years my husband & I have turned into lemonade fanatics.  I guess we just got to craving it one year & found an awesome recipe & became obsessed with drinking it.  It was (/is) such a nice, refreshing change from soda during hot weather.

When I went to retrieve my super amazing recipe today *gasp* it was gone!  Considering how unorganized I am this is really no surprise.  And you’d think I’d have a mental back up handy but I’ve been blessed with the worst memory ever.  Luckily God (or maybe El Diablo) provided us with the internet & I’ve found a recipe that calls for the same ingredients but is prepared slightly different & offers a couple handy tips that I never knew (like rolling the lemons to loosen the juices…perfect sense, right??).  I’ve posted their recipe below & to avoid looking like a total internet recipe thief you can find the original site HERE.

Old Fashioned Classic Lemonade
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 10 minutesTotal Time: 20 minutes

I like to chill this in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving.

INGREDIENTS:
6 lemons – 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cups water
1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Pressing down with your hand, roll the lemons back and forth on a hard surface to release their juices. Cut lemons in two and squeeze out juice reserving the lemon rinds and place the rinds in a large bowl. You can strain the juice if you like to remove the pulp, or leave the pulp if you prefer.

Boil 4 cups of water.

Place the sugar in a bowl and cover with 1 cup water and stir to dissolve.

Cover the lemon rinds with the other 3 cups of boiling water and let this sit for about an hour and you will have lemon infused water, discard the rinds.

In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, the dissolved sugar water, the 3 cups of lemon infused water and the remaining 2 cups of water.

Garnish with mint and lemon slices if you like.

image
Their picture, used without permission but hopefully they won't mind since I'm promoting their recipe. 🙂

If you make it let me know what you think! As for me, I’m going lemon shopping tomorrow.