Friday, February 26, 2010

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken

This recipe will be going on my table tonight.  It doesn't require any special skills or spaghetti sauce, it's delightful all on it's own.  I like to typically serve it with mashed potatoes and a steamed veggie.  This evening, I will be making twice baked potatoes and whole steamed green beans to compliment the main dish.  Dessert will be peanut butter sheet cake with ice cream.  YUM!

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken
3-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese (the cheap/powdery stuff is fine)
1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 small can of French's fried onions (3 oz.), crushed
1 t. paprika
dash pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 T. milk
1/4 c. melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in a shallow pan.  Mix egg and milk in another dish.  Dip chicken in egg/milk mixture, then in dry ingredients.  Place into a baking dish (a square pan or 9x13 is fine, just don't crowd the chicken).  When you are done dipping, sprinkle remaining dry ingredients over the chicken.  Waste not, want not!  Drizzle breast evenly with melted butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lava Cakes

Lava Cakes may sound tricky and complicated, but the only thing complicated is making sure that you have enough custard cups to make a double or triple batch.  Some quick dish washing may have to take place if you only have 4 cups and 8 people to serve. :)  Lava Cakes are so delicious and gooey, as well as incredibly easy to make.  Melt, stir, stir, stir, pour, pour, pour, pour.  That's it!  Oh, did I mention that you can refrigerate these, uncooked, then bake them on demand?  You can!  Go to your kitchen NOW and whip up some of these tasty treats, your spouse and kids will love you forever and ever, AMEN! 

P.S.-Make sure to have some ice cream on hand to go with them.  You'll thank me later for that tip!
P.P.S.-If you are a real-life friend of mine and live in the area, I'll gladly loan you some custard cups to make these, if you don't have any...I have 2 sets...4 cups just doesn't cut it around here. :)

1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 stick butter or margarine
1 c. powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 T. flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease/butter 4 small custard cups.  Melt chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe dish for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave and whisk until combined and completely melted.  Add powdered sugar and mix.  Add eggs and yolks, whisk well.  Add flour and mix until smooth.  Divide batter evenly among greased cups.  Bake at 425 degrees for 13-14 minutes.  While still warm, loosen the cake with a knife from the edges of the cup.  Invert onto individual serving plates or bowls.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a big scoop of ice cream.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

As you have hopefully figured out by now, I will never give you a half-baked (no pun intended) recipe.  Every single recipe I post for you on my blog, I make for my family over and over again. These Chocolate Chip Cookies are no exception, the are AWESOME and I would make them every day if I could.  YUM! 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/3 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. shortening
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
6 oz. chocolate chips (more if you want)

Cream butter, shortening, and sugars together.  Add the egg, mix.  Add in baking powder, salt, vanilla, and flour.  Mix until well combined.  Add chocolate chips gently, so they don't get broken up.  Scoop onto a baking sheet by rounded teaspoonful.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, until light brown.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

No-Bake Cookies

A recipe for really GOOD No-Bake Cookies can be hard to come by.  I  will guarantee that you will have to look no further.  This recipe is perfect, if followed exactly.  Believe it or not, you should NOT make these cookies on a humid day.  Strange, I know, but believe me, they will not set up if there's moisture in the air!

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
3 T. cocoa powder
1/2 c. peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
1 t. vanilla
3 c. oats (quick oats are best)

Melt butter in a saucepan, add sugar, milk, cocoa powder. Bring to a boil. Start timing for 1 minute when it first starts to bubble strongly. After 1 minute, take off the burner.  Stir in peanut butter until melted.  Add vanilla and oats, stir quickly to moisten all oats.  Drop by rounded spoonful onto waxed paper.  Let cool on the counter.

Egg-Cheese-Noodle Skillet

This recipe originally came from my friend, Dana.  She is was a single lady and makes it with 1 package of Ramen Noodles, 2 eggs, and a handful of cheese.  I've morphed the recipe into a skillet meal that is large enough to feed 2 adults and 4 kids under the age of 7.  This is definitely quick and easy.  Perfect to throw together after a hard day at work or a day of running errands. 

Egg-Cheese-Noodle Skillet

4 T. margarine or butter
2 pkg. ramen noodles, any flavor
6 eggs
1 c. frozen corn
1 c. shredded cheese
leftover chicken or turkey (optional)
leftover vegetables (optional)
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Boil the noodles until tender and drain.  Add one seasoning packet to the noodles and stir.  Try to chop the noodles into smaller bits while you're messing with them.  It will make the rest of the recipe easier to stir and flip. 

While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add corn, any leftover meat or veggies that you wish. Usually I put about a cup of each, but you can put more or less, depending on what you need to use up or what sounds good.  Stir around your skillet of buttery veggies and meat until they are nice and warm.  Add seasoned noodles.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Stir to incorporate everything.  If you'd like to brown this mixture, go ahead.  Otherwise, proceed to the next step.

Beat the eggs in a bowl.  If you don't have 6 eggs, you can definitely use less.  I've made this recipe with 2 eggs and it turns out fine, it will just be less eggy and have less volume.  If you want more eggs, please ADD MORE EGGS!  Don't let my recipe confine your desire to be creative with the recipe! :)  Anyways, pour the eggs over the noodle mixture in the skillet.  Proceed to flip, flop, and stir until the eggs are cooked through.  You can put a lid on the skillet to help with the cooking process if you wish.  When the eggs are fully cooked, turn down the heat and put cheese over the top.  Put the lid on and turn off the heat. That's it.  Serve when the cheese is melted.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent


Alright it's time to take a poll.  Raise your hand if you hate seeing your hard earned pennies washed down the drain!    It makes me sick when I see a "sale" on detergent for $10 or even $5 for a bottle of laundry detergent.  What a terrible way to spend your money!  I mean, come ON, seriously?!  I could think of a million other things I would like to spend 5 or 10 bucks on.  With a family of 6, the cost of washing things adds.  Well, today folks, you are going to learn just how easy it is to save some money on laundry.  There's no big secret to it, it's EASY!  Can you run a grater?  Can you measure water?  Can you boil something on the stove?  If you answered yes to all those questions, you have my permission to keep reading. 

The ingredients are:
lots of water
2/3 of a bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1 c. washing soda
1 c. Borax

Here's what all the ingredients look like, in case you need a visual aid to go get them from the store.

1.  Get out a 5 gallon bucket for this project.  I raided the garage and came up with several buckets, but chose the one that we use to wash the car with.  I figured that it had to be fairly clean...right?!?!  It also may be helpful to have a lid for your bucket.  If you don't have a lid, don't worry, you can improvise and use some saran wrap and a gigantic rubber band. 

2.  Next, start grating 2/3 of a bar of Fels Naptha soap into a large sauce pan or stock pot.  I like to cut it in half and use a parmesan cheese grater (the kind you crank by hand) on one chunk at a time.  You could use a box grater, food processor, or a knife to whittle it.  Just get the soap shaved up so it can melt easily in water.  If you trust your kids with any of these tools, I would suggest getting them in on the work.  It takes a lot of arm strength to grate this soap by hand. 

3. Now the work gets easier, put 12 c. water with the grated soap and heat it up on medium to medium-high.  Stir it with a long handled spoon.  Keep stirring and smushing until almost all of the soap chunks are dissolved.  I always seem to be left with some really stubborn chunks, but don't worry about them, they just want attention.  Forget about them and get along with the rest of the soap making, we don't have all day!

4.  Add 1 c. of washing soda and 1 c. Borax to your hot soap water.  Stir it until it's all dissolved.  Your water will most likely feel like it's beginning to gel.  This is a good thing.  If it doesn't feel like gel, that's fine too.  It's all the same in the end. 

5.  After everything is dissolved together, put 8 c. hot tap water in your bucket.

6.  Pour the soap/soda/Borax water into the bucket.  Stir.

7.  Next, you have to put in more water.  A LOT of water!  It will be helpful to have a larger measuring cup or bowl.  I used my 8-cup measurer.  You need to add 44 c. water to the soapy bucket.  Stir to make sure that everything is evenly distributed and put the lid/saran wrap on.  Let it sit for 12-24 hours.  That's it, you're done.  If you can't wait, go ahead and use it while it's still warm and watery, I won't tell.

Use 1/2 c. for each load.

Now, I know that a 5 gallon bucket of detergent is intimidating.  You can store it in the garage or elsewhere and just transfer some to an ice cream bucket with a 1/2 c. scoop in it, so that it is easier to handle.  You could also transfer some to an old detergent bottle and just shake it up before each use.

When the detergent is done curing, it won't be liquidy and syrupy like store-bought detergents.  It will be the consistency of hair gel or snot (sorry)...and it will look like snot too (sorry again).  It will also separate some, so just use your scoop to slosh it around a little.  It will be good to go.  The detergent will also not foam or be sudsy in the washer.  This is ok.  Other detergents have glycerin in them that make them suds.  Suds don't actually do anything for the cleaning process, they're there for effect and to remind you that you put soap in the wash. 

I've been told that this homemade detergent is safe for High Efficiency washers, but that it needs to be added in with the clothes, so it doesn't plug up the soap dispenser.  I can't speak for using it this way, since I have an old-fashioned top loading washer that is probably almost on it's last leg. Please use this recipe with caution, if you are protective of your new/expensive/fancy washing machine...I'd hate for you to go against any regulations it has and break your washer with my recipe (not that I think it will break anything, but I'm just sayin').  For the record, I have used this homemade detergent for a couple years and it cleans well enough to keep my clothes smelling fresh and looking clean.  If you have an extra grungy load, just add a little more soap. 


Friday, February 12, 2010

Turkey Tetrazzini


Turkey Tetrazzini is my number one comfort food.  It's right up there with eggrolls and broccoli and cheese casserole, but this is certainly number one.  The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.  It freezes well (without the cracker crumbs on top, of course) Additionally, if you take this recipe to a new mom, she will kiss your feet...not just because you thought to take her a meal, but because it's so delicious...it's THAT good! 

Turkey Tetrazzini

3/4 lb. spaghetti noodles (the whole box is too much)
1 c. chopped turkey (you can use "real" turkey, but deli meat works just as well, if not better)
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
healthy dash each of garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper
1 cup milk (maybe a little more if it's too dry)

Topping:
1/2 package Ritz Crackers, crushed

Boil the noodles according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, put the rest of the ingredients in a large casserole dish and mix them up.  Add the noodles when they are done cooking and stir until turkey and cheese are evenly distributed.  If needed, add more milk.  You want the mixture to be sloppy: not dry, but not dripping wet.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, top with crushed crackers, bake 5 more minutes.  Enjoy!

Pizza Crust or Breadsticks

Making homemade pizza and breadsticks has never been easier.  Throw the ingredients in the mixer and turn it on.  When it's mixed: roll, shape, and add toppings. 

Pizza Crust or Breadsticks
3 c. flour
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
1 T. yeast (or 1 packet)
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt

Put all the ingredients into your mixer with a dough hook and turn it on.  If you don't have a mixer with dough hook, go ahead and put it in a regular bowl and stir until it's not dry any more.  Roll and shape your dough until it suits your needs.
 *When making pizza, I usually roll it with a rolling pin on a cornmeal covered surface, then transfer to my pizza stone.  I then top the dough immediately with sauce, cheese and toppings and let it rise in a warm place.
*When making breadsticks, I usually roll it to about 1/2 inch thick, cut into sticks, transfer to a pan or stone, then let it rise for at least 1 hour.
 
Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes for breadsticks and 15-20 minutes for pizza (until cheese is melted and a little brown).

To finish the breadsticks, melt a stick of butter in a bread pan.  Sprinkle it with a generous amount of garlic powder and a dash of salt.  Stir to combine.  As soon as the breadsticks come out of the oven, roll them individually in the butter, then line up on a platter.  Once you have 1 layer, sprinkle generously with parmesan cheese.  Repeat until they are all buttery and delicious.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Morning dew, sleepy eyed kids, the sounds of loons across the lake, waves splashing against the shore, and sizzling bacon all come to mind when I make oatmeal pancakes.  This is our family's go-to recipe for our "big breakfasts" that we prepare during summer vacations at Long Lake.  To PROPERLY make oatmeal pancakes, you MUST use the bacon grease (instead of the oil that is called for) from the pound of bacon you make before you fry up the pancakes.  You also MUST make them on a propane powered camp cookstove while swatting at mosquitos and chasing kids away from the campfire ring.  I guess you could make the recipe as it's written, in your nice, clean, mosquito-free kitchen, but what fun would that be?!?!

Oatmeal Pancakes

2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
2 eggs
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/3 c. oil (or lots of bacon grease!)

Combine the milk and oatmeal in a bowl and let it rest and soak together while you put in the other ingredients.  Dump the rest of the ingredients into the oatmeal/milk bowl.  Stir with a wire wisk until combined.  If you are going to use the bacon grease, just leave out the oil and wait until the bacon is done cooking, then put into the waiting bowl of pancake batter.  Cook on a lightly oiled griddle on medium heat.  Give them plenty of time to cook through, or else you will end up with gooey centered pancakes. This recipe makes about 12-3" pancakes.

**If you want to use whole wheat flour instead of white flour, go ahead.  They will keep the kids filled up just a little longer!  Usually when I substitute whole wheat for white, I add 1 T. gluten to the mix.  This is certainly not necessary, but will help keep the pancakes more "stretchy" instead of crumbly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Our Family's Favorite Meatloaf

This is our favorite meatloaf recipe.  As always, you could use lean ground beef or turkey burger.


Venison Meatloaf

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. ground venison
1 t. Lawry's seasoned salt
1 t. celery salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
2 eggs
1 small-med. onion, chopped (a good handful and a half)
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. ketchup
CHEESE!!! (shredded or a chunk cut into slices)

Mix everything together, except the cheese. Layer 1/2 in a loaf pan, put down lots of cheese, maybe about 1 or 1 1/2 cups if you want to measure. Then put the rest of the meat mixture on top. Pat it down flat. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Maybe a little longer if you used more meat.

An alternate way to cook this is in the microwave.  In order to get it to cook evenly, you will need to use a ring mold or shape it into a ring.  You do the same with the layering, but turn the ring mold out onto a large microwave-safe plate after you are done.  Cook it for 20 minutes at full power.  This works best if it's in a microwave that has the automatic rotating plate thingy.  If you don't have that, make sure to rotate it regularly.

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans cooked with onion and bacon or broccoli!

Menu Plan Monday


Monday:  Leftover BBQ Turkey Pizza (from last night's Super Bowl shindig)

Tuesday:  Enchiladas

Wednesday:  Turkey Tetrazzini

Thursday:  Potato Soup and Salad

Friday:  Spaghetti

Saturday:  Venison Chops

Sunday:  Valentine's Dinner-either going out or cooking steaks!

See more yummy menu plans over at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Cheddar Ham Chowder

Since a storm is about to hit us here in Central Michigan, I have decided to grace my new blog pages with a scrumptious and hearty chowder recipe.  It's perfect for an evening meal that you can serve up in less than 30 minutes!  As a bonus, the ingredients are simple, so you don't have to break the bank to make it!

Cheddar Ham Chowder
2 c. potatoes, diced
1 c. carrots, sliced
1/4 c. onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 c. margarine
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (mild or medium works fine too)
1 can corn, drained
1 1/2 c. diced or chopped ham (I use 1 pound of sliced deli ham and cut it into small squares)

In a LARGE pot, combine 2 c. water, potatoes, onion, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, but do not drain!

In a SMALLER pot, melt margarine and add flour.  Heat and stir for a couple minutes, then add the milk, slowly.  Continue stirring until thick and bubbly, this could take about 10 minutes.  Add shredded cheese and stir until melted.

Pour cheese mixture, corn, and ham into vegetable mixture.  Heat until thouroughly warmed and enjoy! 

This recipe is especially good with some crusty bread, cornbread, or fluffy biscuits smothered in honey! 

Shepherd's Pie

This recipe is tasty as well as easy! You can freeze it, make it for a friend that had a baby, or feed it to your toddler. It is a cinch to throw together and I'll guarantee you have most of the ingredients on hand!

Shepherd's Pie
1 pound ground meat (beef, venison, turkey, chicken, whatever!)
1 medium onion, chopped up (optional)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 c. Miracle Whip
1 t. salt
1/4. t. pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
1 can each of corn, green beans, carrots, all drained well!
handful of frozen peas (optional)
2-3 cups mashed potatoes, instant works well
sprinkle of cheddar cheese

Brown the meat and onion together until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft. Stir in the soup, Miracle Whip, and seasonings. Gently stir in the vegetables. Put the mixture into a 3 quart casserole dish or 9x13 or Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker. Use whatever floats your boat. :) Cover with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with a side of garlic bread and a salad if desired!

Welcome!

Welcome to my new website! I hope you will tag along with me and join me on an adventure to cook, simplify, and be domestic. I promise to provide my readers with easy recipes that are delicious and easy to make. I may mix in some other household ramblings, but I'm sure you will enjoy those too! For now, let's see what we can cook up and add to this blog! First up...Shepherd's Pie!