Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli and Chicken Bake

A good evening to you all.  I always say that, don't I?  How should I start?  I mean the options are HOLLAAAAA, or like........YO.  No, those won't work.  Anyway, it IS a good evening, when I am writing this anyway and I hope it is for you too!

Summer has sprung.  I know we are all doing a lot more cooking outdoors but, sometimes, indoor cooking is our choice too!  We still have families to feed or maybe only ourselves.  In fact this recipe will do fantastic in the freezer if you have to many leftovers.  Those of you who are single will love to know that.  You can take out the broccoli, it will still be delish, but, honestly, if you take out the broccoli put in peas or something green.  Cause I am the mom that's why!

Enjoy this easy, and yummy casserole that is sure to fill up the tummies of all you love!

2 T butter
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4 cup flour
2 3/4 cups milk
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
16 oz. pasta, cooked to al dente
2-3 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced
16 oz. bag of frozen broccoli
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

If you cook your pasta in salted water, make sure to keep the water when you are done and cook your chicken in it.  Drain your pasta and set aside.  Return pot to stove top and add butter and onions.  Let onions cook for 2-3 minutes, while stirring. 

Add in flour and allow to cook while stirring for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flour taste.  Add in onion powder, salt, pepper and milk.  Let come back to a boil, stirring often.  Add in chicken and broccoli.  Remove from heat and add in 1 1/2 cups of your cheese.  Stir and pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and back for 20-30 minutes.  

This is a really easy recipe that is usually a winner for anyone I make it for!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Stuffing Meatloaf

I hope this finds you having a fantastic day!  I am getting ready for my oldest granddaughter to arrive from NJ to spend the summer with my son and his family and of course Nonna and Pop Pop!  ACK!  We haven't seen her in almost 2 years and it just kills me!  Anyway, that is what I am up to, anticipation, excitement and my smooches and hugs bank is just growing by the minute!

So, this recipe was actually given to my husband by a co-worker who I refer to as his "work wife".  If I need him to remember ANYTHING I just tell her or he forgets during the course of the day.  This may not be a new recipe to you but it is to me and I wanted to try it.  I wanted to make a few changes as well.  I BELIEVE she said, a pound of hamburger and 1 box of stuffing mix.  It has been awhile ago, but, I think that was it.  I changed it up just a bit and I think it turned out amazing.  I love boxed stuffing mix, sue me.  I think it is the best thing since sliced bread and if I never have to eat homemade "dressing" again, I am good with that. SO good with that. 

This is not a generic meatloaf I would put  a nice topping on, this, to me, is a brown gravy meatloaf.  You need mashed potatoes and brown gravy because, you just do.  Add some nice steamed green beans, and a fresh warm roll, and oh YESSSS!  Oh and did I mention the kind of crunchy top?  Oh yea, well it does.  And it is amazing!

I used super lean ground beef, and pork.  Even if I had fattier ground beef I always add pork to my meatloaf.  My mom always did, need I say more?

You will need:

2 boxes of PORK flavored stuffing mix (6 ozs. I think)
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1lb. ground pork (not sausage)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Add all ingredients into a large bowl. 

Get your hands in there kids, just go for it!  You can also put this in a kitchen aid with the paddle attachment, which is what I do for my regular meatloaf because it gives it a FABULOUS consistency.  I just wanted to test this one with just doing it by hand.  I supposed you could crush up the bread and seasoning mixture but I put mine in whole.  Mix to combine.  Place into a 9x13 backing dish or your regular meatloaf pan of choice.  My mom always used loaf pans.  I use a 9x13.  Form it into your favorite shape.  I like to make mine wide enough to fit a slice on a sandwich, which my husband likes, more than just the meatloaf by itself!  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  Just check it, you want it done but not dried out.

This is a dense meatloaf, which I personally prefer.  This is my perfect meatloaf.  Just delicious!  Some people might like the stuffing mix crushed up more as I said before, I left it whole.  So do it either way.  I hope you give it a try, I am so glad I did!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Strawberries and Cream Donut Holes

Evening folks!  This is one of the easiest recipes EVER.  It is more of an assembly process but I decided to share it with you anyway.  Are there recipes that are "to easy"?  I think we could all use a few of these in our last minute panic arsenal! 

Honestly, you COULD do this with glazed donuts as well but in my opinion, the sugar coma, won't be worth it.  I love using the donut holes because you can use them as a little mini dessert, little snacks, and it is just enough.  Feel free to make your own donut holes, I purchased mine because I was in fact taking these somewhere as a gift and was in a rush.  I recommend the glazed ones, no sugar dipped or anything. 

The amounts of the ingredients will really depend on how many you are making, I did a dozen.  I also used fresh sweetened whipped cream, but if you groove on cool whip or the stuff in a can, go for it.  The world is your sandwich friends, make it how you like it.  Make sure to buy your donut holes the day you are making these or they will go stale!

I hope this quick and easy, dessert, food gift, or snack is enjoyed by everyone you make it for.  Oh yea, make sure to make it!

1 dozen donut holes
4-6 nice ripe strawberries
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Start with prepping your strawberries, slice them thick or thin, just make sure you put the rounded end slices with the rounded part down in the whipped cream so the tops will sit nicely!  OCD much?  I own it.  In a bowl whip the cream, sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks.  Now cut the donut holes in half and go to town.  You can pipe the cream on, but I just used a spoon.  Don't worry if you get whipping cream where you think it shouldn't be, I mean, that means there is just more.  NEVER a bad thing.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve but I recommend serving immediately.  (you might notice I said I made a dozen and there are only 10 on the plate)  No shame in my game, NONE!!

ENJOY my friends!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Coconut Orange Body Scrub

Hey friends!  Long time no see!  I have no excuse other than some other things have had to take priority, and there aren't enough hours in a day.  But I think I am back.  I think I said that before, but I am pretty positive now.  I am running 2 businesses, caring for my grand littles a few days a week and trying to keep up the blog and website.  Oh then there is being a wife, and having household duties, and all of that stuff!  We have had weddings, and baby showers and lots of photo shoots, it is crazy but I refuse to give up the things I love, so even if it is between 2 and 6 a.m., I WILL keep things up!

So speaking of baby showers, I held a surprise one this week for my niece Maegon.  She is my oldest niece, she is only 5 years younger than me, so she is more like a little sister.  She is pregnant with her first baby, and this was something she was told may never happen so I wanted to celebrate big!  She lives out of state and was coming in for another nieces wedding and it was the perfect time!  I wanted to do something fun for the favors, as I themed her shower "The Jungle Book".  Her favorite color is orange (good choice, so is mine).  So I filled brown paper bags with banana runts, gummy bears, coconut jelly beans, animal crackers, bright green sixlets (needed the color!) and this sugar scrub.  Lots of you said you didn't mind seeing a recipe that wasn't food, although, you technically could eat this so if you have little ones and like to keep things natural, well, this is safe. 

There are 5 million recipes for body scrubs out there.  Many the same and many different.  I had some coconut oil I wanted to use up, and I wanted a sugar based scrub and not a salt one.  By the way, this is an awkward disclaimer, make sure you use this on your body and keep it away from, umm..... your "undercarriage" as it is sugar based which feeds yeast and well, I will let you google it, if you don't know what I am sayin!  OMG, that was so weird to type in a food blog.  Let's hurry ad just move on.  Act like it didn't happen.

This made about 10 half pint jars, but if you are using just for yourself, store in an airtight container and use it before self tanning, after being out in the sun, or just to pamper your skin it smells out of this world and it works amazing!  My mix and match was a hit, so here we go!

1 cup coconut oil, melted
4 cups granulated sugar
10 drops of orange essential oil.  (I purchase it at my local natural product store)
orange food coloring

Literally just put this all in a bowl and start mixing.  It might take a couple of minutes but it will all mix beautifully. 

The addition of the food coloring will not affect your skin at all.  When you have the color consistent you are basically done!  While I can't be exact on the shelf life, I am sure that it is at least several weeks and honestly, it won't be around that long anyway!!!

Enjoy soft, exfoliated, delicious smelling skin!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken!

More slow cooker recipes!  You asked for them, so I am trying to oblige you!  I am taking a few of our family favorites, that I never used a slow cooker for, and use the slow cooker for quicker, hearty meals that families and especially kids will love!!

This "sticky chicken" as we call it, is DELICIOUS.  I am not sure why we started calling it that, but we did, and the name has "stuck".  Hardy har har......   Sometimes we eat it over rice, sometimes over egg noodles.  The awesome thing about this recipe is, it will feed an army, AND the leftover options are endless.   I have taken leftovers, added more stock, carrots, celery, and whatever rice or noodles are left for soup, I have added carrots, peas, potatoes, celery and slapped it in a  pie crust for pot pie.  I have also added chili powder, and cumin, and turned it into chicken enchiladas.  I mean, you get my drift, you don't have to have the same leftovers again the next night.

On a side note.  This whole "shredding" thing, really REALLY sends me over the edge.  I know I could use my fingers, however usually I am not patient enough to let things cool enough for that.  By the way, as I type this, my mouth is water and I have chicken skin (goose bumps) just thinking about it.  If I use two forks, and the tines get stuck in each other, it almost sends me into shock.  I am the woman who can't put silverware away in a drawer because it touches each other (omg now my teeth hurt) and the sound, OMG the sound.  Ok, I can't talk about it anymore.

Here is this easy recipe that is probably one of the most versatile recipes on my website as far as leftover remakes!

4lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup chicken stock
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to sprinkle on top if you choose

Place chicken breasts into your slow cooker.  In a bowl combine, soups, stock, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper.  You may want to wait on the salt since the canned soups are fairly sodium laden (hangs head in shame).  Mix ingredients until completely combined.  Pour over chicken, flip chicken around in the mixture, cover, and set your slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours.  When it is done, remove chicken to a plate and shred.

When it is all shredded, add back into your creamy gravy-ish mixture and stir. 

Serve over rice or egg noodles.  We love both but did egg noodles this time!

I know this photo isn't the greatest, sometimes that just happens, but trust me when I tell you, it is comforting, filling and plain old good for the tummy!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Hot Beef Sandwiches

Now, this, ladies and gentleman is going way back for me.  This is one of my favorite comfort foods EVER.  I wish they were calorie free, fat free and all that jazz, but, they aren't.  If they were I could eat them at least 3 times a week.  No joke  But let me tell you what I realized about hot beef sandwiches

Not all of these sandwiches are created the same  In fact, some people have no idea what they are.  (GASP).  I know, right?  When I become an eastie, (moved to NJ) I wanted a hot beef sandwich.  I was missing home and wanted some HOME food.  Not pizza, no cheesesteaks, just as my husband calls it, "farm food".  Well, we went to our favorite diner, (shout out to Golden Palace in Vineland, NJ) and ordered a hot roast beef sandwich.  When it arrived, it was roast beef, swimming in gravy on a toasted hoagie roll.  Ok, it wasn't what I was planning, but, hey, it was as close as I figured I would get, so I enjoyed every luscious bite!  When my husband asked what was different I said, "Where are the potatoes?  Where is the sandwich bread?"  He was not nearly as concerned as I was but, to end this story on a positive note, I did find a hot beef sandwich that slightly resembled my most coveted treat from home.  You were holding your breath, weren't you? 

Now, while I enjoy all things homemade, I have to tell you, I tend to make fake gravy for this but I do it in a "nobody can tell" way..  I use that package that you add 3 or 4 cups of water to, but you could use 3 small packages, or as I will write the recipe, how I do it when I make homemade gravy

Make sure to make a batch of mashed potatoes to serve along side of this delicious sandwich, from my childhood and from, well.......dinner tonight!

You will need
4-5 lb. roast of your choice (I like very little fat for this recipe
2 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning (I know, just trust me)
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. salt (if making homemade gravy, reduce to 1 if using package gravy)
1 tsp. black pepper (or to taste, or not at all)
3-4 cups of beef stock or water with bouillon cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp. butter
kitchen bouquet (as desired)
ALL liquid left from your slow cooker

In your slow cooker, add your roast.  Sprinkle over onion powder, poultry seasoning, dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste.  Add in beef stock or water and bouillon cubes.  Place the lid on and cook on high for 6 hours.  I normally like my roast beef medium, but for this you want it well done.  Don't mess with it just let it go.

When your roast is done, remove unto a platter.  Leaving your slow cooker on high!

Now, to the stock left in your slow cooker, add in flour, butter and Kitchen Bouquet, and whisk that goodness until it is glossy, and thickened. 

(If using packages of gravy, add them right into the stock and whisk until no lumps appear)

Slice your roast beast and then slide it back into the gravy.  Place on warm until you are ready to serve.  Make a sandwich, add a side of mashed potatoes and your carb heaven has arrived!

This is perfect to make extra and freeze for later!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chicken Parmesan Bake

This is one of my favorite dishes  I think it is a popular dish, that lots of people love, but don't always feel like dealing with the whole process.  Well, I am happy to tell you I took the process out of it. 

Ok, I can't take ALL of the credit, my sister has a friend who has a friend who told her about this recipe.  I, as usual made some of my own modifications but, it will taste very much the same no matter how you do it   Originally I think the breasts were left whole, which just seemed like so much work.  If this was going to be an easy version, then it should already be cut up.  Right?  Wow, that sounded so very lazy of me.  The breasts I was working with (teehee) were huge (teehee again) and while I would use as many breasts as you have people, I used only 3 of these monsters.  Sorry, my maturity level is at an all time low lately.  Blame it on the grand littles.  HA!

You can use store bought sauce, or use your own.  We aren't having that battle tonight, I have been to busy, and don't have the strength.  I actually just laughed at that comment.  I used store bought jarred sauce for this recipe.  I could have made homemade croutons but, duh, this is supposed to be the easy version of chicken parmesan. 

Serve this over any pasta you like, I served it with rotini, and loved it.  In fact, I loved this so much, I might make it every week all summer because, I just like it that much.   Alright, that might have been a bit dramatic but I will be making this often. 

Oh wait did I mention the oven decided to stop working about 15 min after I put this in?  Yea, well, it will be fixed up soon, and I don't think 3 hours to wait was THAT long.  Do you?  HA!  Hopefully your oven isn't moody, and it will take the real amount of time!

You will need
3-4 chicken breasts, boneless skinless, cut into cubes
2 T. olive oil
1 T. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 jar of marinara (omg I can't remember the ounces)
1 can of tomato soup
1 T. sugar
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1, 5oz bag of seasoned (garlic) croutons
Extra dried Italian seasoning

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place chicken cubes into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Add olive oil, onion powder, salt, and Italian seasoning.  Toss the chicken to get everything seasoned up! In a bowl mix together marinara, tomato soup and sugar.  Pour over your chicken!

Now sprinkle liberally with your mozzarella cheese  Make sure to get the corners!  Don't let the corner people out!  Now top with your croutons  You could use the double the amount but trust me when I tell you this is enough even thought it may seem like it isn't.

I think this pic is upside down  Oh well, let's go with it, to change things up!

Now cover the top with parmesan cheese!  Then sprinkle on more Italian seasoning, a lot or a little the choice is yours, I did a LOT!

Now, bake this bad baby for 35-50 minutes  I know that is a large range of time but it just depends on how big your chunks of chicken are.  As soon as you are certain they are done, this is ready to eat!  If the top gets a bit, or starts to get a bit brown cover with foil for the duration of baking.  I personally am all about those really brown cheese bits.  Oh yea!

Serve with pasta of your choice or eat it alone!