Tag Archives: easy

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!

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

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Usung a top layer of plastic wrap helped cut down on the mess.
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Beautiful Mason jar circles & something I'm calling "sugar drops". (Aka: dough rolled into a ball, rolled in sugar.)
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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…

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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?!

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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.

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Icing/glaze close-up, still wet.

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We used a knife to cut some shapes pre-baking.
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Oldest child did blue, I did green.
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Random.
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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.

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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:
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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:

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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:
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Ta-da! The dinner I pulled out of thin air.

A closer look at the meatloaf cup:
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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.
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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.

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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….?”.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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

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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.

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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!!

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

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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.

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Buffet display. The BLT pizza is hanging out in the back, towards the top. Notice the hamburger pizza complete with pickles!
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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.

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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!

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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!

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

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!

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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.

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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.

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Let's eat!

Homemade Laundry Detergent 101

So here lately (aka approx. 6 months) we’ve been broke.  The husband would probably not appreciate me airing our finance issues, but I’m cool with it because I know we’re by far not the only ones, and I’m praying to sweet baby Jesus that it’s only a temporary set-back.  Anyway…being broke forces you into doing things & trying things you never have before, such as making your own laundry detergent because you’ve run out but there are zero dollars to buy more yet everyone still needs clean clothes because the world doesn’t stop turning & clothes don’t stop getting dirty just because you’re broke.  Right?  Right.

I have quite a few packages of bar soap…it used to be a ton & I acquired them during my coupon heyday.  I googled a recipe for homemade laundry detergent (found one that I almost had all the necessary ingredients) & got to work.  Let me tell ya…do not be daunted by the sound of this activity.  It’s very simple & cost effective & even better (as far as I can tell anyway): it actually works!  So whether you’re currently broke like myself (by the way…I don’t mean the kind of broke that some assholes claim they are yet they have all their basic needs met & then some, which in my opinion is not truly broke, it’s just lying for sympathy(?) or attention (?)) or just curious or trying to save a few bucks or maybe you’re just a Crafty Little McCraftster….try the recipe out & let me know what ya think!!

Broke People’s Detergent

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You Need:
3 bars of soap (I used Ivory; you can use any kind on hand)
6 cups water
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda (Can be found with the laundry junk at the store; I had just run out so I upped my Borax to 1 cup as a substitute)
6 cups warm water
Large pot
Bucket (I used a 3 gallon-I think-plastic mop bucket)

You Do:
Add 6 cups of water to a large pot.  Stir in grated (I only chopped my soap & some of it didn’t melt completely so I’d definitely take the time to grate) bar soap; heat over medium high until melted.  Add borax & washing soda; stir well until dissolved.  Add 6 cups of warm water, mix well with a whisk.  Add 1 gallon (I used a freshly emptied milk jug) cool water, mix well.  Stir with the whisk every 30 minutes until completely cool (I bolded this because I was lazy & did not do this because it felt “cool enough” to me; I think that’s why I ended up with some chunkiness in the end. Don’t let laziness mess up your results!).  Cover & let it sit undisturbed overnight. 

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In the morning you may have to break up some solidified soap on the top & stir well for a little bit just to mix it all up good. 

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After that the mixture should resemble thinned hair conditioner

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(aka Dollar Tree conditioner; aka you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever experienced true broke-ness) & you can pour it into containers for storage & distribution (I used the freshly emptied laundry detergent bottle+the milk jug).  When ready to use just give it a couple good shakes, use 2 oz. for small loads/4 oz. for large loads (or just fill the detergent bottle cap up like myself) & you’re off!  See how clean your clothes can get & truly at a fraction of the price of commercial detergent.

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.

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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.

**Updated** Tastes like home in my mouth. And it will yours too.

Some of my tried & true recipes have been passed down from my mom’s side of the family.  Things like potato salad, sausage gravy, green beans, chicken & dumplings.  Since my paw-paw (whom they originated from), nanny, & mom are all gone now these recipes have become even more sacred to me and I’ve made a point of keeping them in rotation so my kids will grow up remembering them.  Hey, I’m kinda crazy when it comes to food okay?

So the other day I saw 2 different pins (on Pinterest, just in case you’ve been under a rock for the past year) but I believe they’re the same link/recipe.  One says something about “crock pot chicken & dumplings”, one says something about “cracker barrel chicken & dumplings”.  It looks like the same picture on both so I said what the hell & went with the crock pot one.  However my subconscious likes to stress me out so I didn’t get the urge to make it until it was too late to do in the crock pot.  Of course.  So I put my big cook panties on & decided I’d try to convert it to a stove top recipe.  The entire time I was expecting failure.  Seriously…the whole time.  And then they get done & with the first bite I knew that it would be my new go-to chicken & dumplings recipe.  I felt a twinge of guilt towards my “family tradition” but I can’t help it…these fuckers are goooooood.  They taste like home in my mouth.  So despite the fact that I’ve already posted like 65,000 blogs today, I wanted to make a post about this one before I forgot all the steps I had to convert & tinker with.  I am one of those cooks who does “pinches” & “dashes” so I’m gonna attempt to be as clear & understandable as possible but if I cause confusion please leave a comment & I’ll try to clarify.  Obviously I’m not a raging popular blog so I’ll have plenty of time to answer you.  Now, whaddya waitin’ for–get to cookin’!!

PS: all of the pics are at the end; I didn’t want to confuse things even more by interjecting photos everywhere!

Delicious Home Tasting Chicken & Dumplings from Pinterest or Cracker Barrel but who really cares because they’re so damn good

First, the HOMEMADE CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP.
You will need:
4 T. Butter
4 T. Flour
2 c. Liquid (broth, milk, water)

Throw all your butter into a saucepan or skillet over med-high heat; melt completely. Toss all the flour in then stir with a whisk to combine with the butter. It should end up resembling a pliable, soft, play-doh like mixture. Let this cook for a couple of minutes then begin to add your liquid. Now: this is the part that requires patience & concentration. You must add the liquid a little at a time. What type of liquid you add is up to you; the first time I made this I was low on milk so I did half milk/half water; the next time I did 3/4 chicken broth/1/4 milk. It’s totally up to you, just make sure it’s 2 cups. Anyway…I always add just a splash of liquid at first then whisk everything together; as you’re adding the liquid the “play-doh” is soaking it up & expanding. Splash, whisk, splash, whisk…you get the idea. Once your mess mixture starts to resemble a soupy liquid it’s generally pretty safe to dump the rest of your liquid in, whisk & cook for a few minutes. Variations on this are easy too: for cream of celery just toss some finely chopped celery in with your melting butter; for cream of mushroom add finely chopped mushroom to your butter; for a stronger chicken taste sprinkle some chicken bouillon in. You just made homemade cream of chicken soup-take that, Campbell’s!!

Alrighty…once you’ve made the soup just set it aside. If you’re more organized than myself, you could actually do this next step before making the soup but…eh, whatever.

The Chicken
You will need:
2-4 lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken
(You can use any type you want, I prefer breast because you don’t have to trim the fat; also a little chicken goes a loooong way in this recipe so if you don’t have much that’s a-okay)
2 T. Butter
2 c. Cream of Chicken soup (what you just made)
1 c. Chicken broth
1 onion, diced

What you do:
Place the chicken in a pot, cover with water, dump some salt in & bring to a boil. You can move on to other tasks while the chicken is boiling but don’t forget about it…you don’t want it to start falling apart. Thoroughly cook the chicken, reserve the water (which is now homemade chicken broth!), and place the chicken aside. In another large pot combine over medium heat the 2 cups of soup you made earlier, 1 cup of chicken broth (yes that’s right: get it from the reserved “boiling” water!), the onions & butter. Whisk all ingredients until thoroughly blended, then add the chicken pieces. Cook this mixture-stirring occasionally-for about 20 minutes/while preparing dumplings to blend flavors.

The Dumplings
You have 2 options here: use Bisquick, or follow the recipe listed below. You could also cut up refrigerator biscuits if you’re crunched for time or just lazy as hell. I promise you that rolling out dough is SO SO worth it & really doesn’t take long at all. You can absolutely taste the difference over fridge biscuits & you will be super glad you took the time to do it. If you opt for Bisquick they always have their biscuit recipe on the box, just follow it & jump back in here for the rolling part. If you’re going the distance for your dough you’ll need this recipe:

You will need:
2 c. Flour
3 t. Baking powder
2 T. Sugar
1 t. Salt
1/3 c. Oil (veggie, canola)
2/3 c. Milk

What you do:
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Measure out oil & milk in separate measuring cups, then gently add milk to oil. DO NOT STIR. Add oily-milk to the bowl of dry ingredients; using your hands gently mix together. Try to get it mixed up thoroughly yet in as few moves as possible. I know this is confusing but the more dough is handled the tougher it gets. After mixing pat into a giant ball; I usually stick mine in the freezer for a few minutes just to firm it up a bit. Now for the rolling:
-Sprinkle some flour on a clean, flat surface (ie: your kitchen table).
-Place your dough ball on top then knead a couple of times, sprinkling a tiny bit of flour as needed if it has stickiness.
-Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour (this should be abbreviated to S.T.B.F., lol!) over your rolling pin & start rolling out your dough. Make it as thick or as thin as you want (mainly because I never measured my dough thickness, I just always eyeball it) but keep in mind the dough will puff up once it becomes a dumpling. In other words you don’t want dumplings the same thickness as a porterhouse. Or maybe you do. Again, your call.
-Use a pizza cutter (genius, right?!) to cut horizontal & vertical lines, forming little rectangles. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a small cookie cutter like I did last time (a little star!). Or, you can make small strips. Your preference.
-Gather up your uncooked dumplings & place on a plate; repeat these steps until all of your dough is used.

The Final Result
Finally, you’re at the finish line! Increase the heat on the chicken/soup mixture to medium-high; remove the chicken pieces. While you’re waiting on the soup to get a little hotter shred all of your chicken & set aside. Some recipes call for you to put it back in the pot but this is my recipe & I say set it aside because it’s easier to cook your dumplings. You should be seeing the occasional heat bubble in your soup pot; when this happens start adding your dumplings one by one all around inside the pot. After you add a whole “layer” of them wait a minute then stir gently to make sure they’re not sticking. Cook for a few minutes until they’re puffed up, probably 5-6 minutes. You probably don’t have any free space to add more dumplings so remove the cooked ones (I always just dump them in with my shredded chicken) with a slotted spoon, then repeat the process until all dumplings have been cooked. Finally, gently re-add all the dumplings & chicken, stir to mix it all in with the soup, and let it cook a few minutes so the mouth watering yumminess can blend together. To be fancy like me you can sprinkle some parsley on top after dishing into serving bowls.

And wah-la, you have the best chicken & dumplings ever. After you come down from your chicken & dumpling euphoria, let me know what you think! Oh, and you’re welcome. 😉

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Fancy C&D with rectangles dumplings & parsley.
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Homemade cream of chicken soup.
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Shredded chicken.
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Dumplings as they're cooking.
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Cutesy star dumplings! They were the perfect thickness too.

Homemade Starbucks: Iced White Chocolate Mocha.

I’ve always been a coffee drinker and as everyone knows Starbucks has the best coffee around…that’s how they get away with charging so much for it. My first Starbucks love was a Grande Mocha Java Chip with Extra Chocolate. Mmm-mmm good! If you’ve never tried it then you definitely should. My new Starbucks love is a Grande Iced White Chocolate Mocha with No Whip. I’d tried the hot white chocolate mocha & it was pretty good but I’m not into drinking hot coffee during the day in summertime. My Sister was the one who told me about the same thing but over ice. It was love at first taste! It’s good with or without the whip but I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream anyway so I usually do without. My new “relationship” with the IWCM (iced white chocolate mocha) was becoming pretty costly so I started searching for recipes to make something similar at home. I needed a way to feed my addiction without starving my wallet.

Long story short all of the recipes I tested were okay, but didn’t taste like what I was looking for. A lot of recipes I found probably would’ve tasted the same as Starbucks but they called for white chocolate syrup, and the prices for that stuff are not cheap. I wasn’t about to spend money on something that may only get used once & then shoved to the back of the cabinet. I had to let my idea simmer awhile…drift to the back of my brain until a solution made itself known. Eventually it did…I was grocery shopping the other day & it hit me: Why not use white chocolate chips?? I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Chips just made more sense…not only are they cheaper for testing purposes but if it didn’t work out I could use them in something else. I also felt like real white chocolate would taste better than syrup. To the baking aisle I went. I feel my end result (after my FIRST test run!) was about as close to Starbucks as I’m going to get at home. Maybe it would be exact if I used their brand of coffee. The following recipe is just how I do mine; feel free to tweak yours however you want & keep tweaking until you get it right for you. Everyone likes their coffee their own way. If you try it out & enjoy it let me know!! Leave a comment! Constructive criticism? Leave a comment! I’d love to know if anyone actually comes across this blog & tries my recipe. =]

You will need:

**1 KCup of coffee or “iced coffee”, or a regularly brewed cup of coffee. (I have been using KCups for iced coffee but it really doesn’t matter, use what you prefer.)

**Ice
**1 bag white chocolate chips
**1/4–1/3 c. Milk or evaporated milk (depends on how milky you like your coffee. I usually use 1/3)
**Cream/sugar just in case you need it.

—First, brew your KCup/cup of coffee the way you usually do. The KCups for iced coffee tell you to brew over ice but I don’t. If you put a little less water than usual it will give it a slightly stronger coffee flavor; you have to remember that you’re going to be putting it over ice which does melt and will water it down a tad. I usually stick mine in the freezer for a few minutes just to help take some of the heat off.
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—In a small saucepan (on the stove, med-high) dump about 1 to 1/2 handfuls of the white chocolate chips & 1/4–1/3 c milk. Stir together until completely melted & combined. I am particular about certain things & one of them is making sure the chips are entirely melted; otherwise you have little white remnants floating around which, to me, is just plain gross.
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—Almost done! Add ice to your cup of choice (I usually use a travel cup because they’re a bit taller), as much or as little as you want. Keep in mind that if you only add 1 or 2 pieces you’ll probably have to add more in order to have “iced” coffee, unless your coffee is pretty cooled off by this point. Mix your homemade “white sauce” into your coffee TO TASTE…meaning…a little at a time, tasting after each addition to see if it’s at a sweetness level you want. If you use all of your white sauce & it’s still not how you want it then feel free to add cream &/or sugar.
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—Pour this final concoction over the ice, give it a good stir, and sip away! You can top it off with whipped cream if you want. It’s your creation…customize it!