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Nothing Fancy, Just Good Food

Labor Day Weekend!

Hey Ya’ll! What a fun weekend it has been!! Friday I had a closing for one of my sweetest and easiest going clients ever! Friday night was nice and relaxing, my dad came home from Texas to spend the holiday with us and he was pretty late so my mom and I had Newk’s salads! Saturday, the best day, GAME DAY!! I went over and saw my sweet Bella, cooked some steaks on the grill, and watched the MSU game. WE WON!! 49-0… Just sayin’ 😉 I think Bella was happy… What do ya’ll think?

Bella silly

She was partly happy because the Bulldog’s won and her’s a bulldog!! She also really just wanted some of her mommy’s steak… Anywho, Sunday was a full work day for me! I even had to miss church to show some nice folks a few or 15 houses! So, my wonderful mama made a nice big pot of red beans and rice for us! Monday, we went over to my brother’s house for Prime Rib and a little family time! My brother sure does know his way around a smoker! It was delicious! Speaking of my brother, that little loser called me at 8:15 yesterday morning asking me to make him some Twice Baked Potatoes… I told him okay and hung up on him! Haha, ask and you shall receive but at least let me get my beauty sleep! I told ya’ll that to tell you this. We had lunch at their house and I didn’t have all the stuff for what I was bringing. I got up and ran to the grocery store around 10; but, those potatoes take a while to bake. Since I was in such a hurry, ya’ll will not be seeing picture of the Potatoes or the Lemon Ice Box Pie today… I’m sorry! I’ll try to put some other pictures in here though! They’re both super easy. I’m also going to give ya’ll the recipe for some grilled chicken that I made tonight; but that’s not all folks! I invented a recipe for dirty rice this week that I just absolutely have to share! It’s the first time I’ve made it and I didn’t have anything to go off of and it turned out perfectly!! I’m super proud of it. So I’ll be sharing that too! But first, look at these two cuties!

Frankie me and Hazie

I sure love these two beauties! Can’t wait to see the new lil’ Mr. or Ms. Hall! With these fabulous genes, it may just be Ms. America or even the President of the United States. I mean come on… we Hall’s are smart and beautiful! 😉

The grilled chicken is pretty simple. I wish I could tell ya’ll that I have some super secret recipe or marinade. The chicken is right on point but the marinade is really nothing special! First, it’s all about the chicken. I’ve started buying thinly sliced chicken breasts. The regular ones are just too darn big! But you can use whatever type you want. This would even be good with bone in chicken. Thighs, wings, drumsticks, whatever. I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This is what you’ll need.

Grilled Chicken:

4 chicken breasts,

1 cup Stubb’s marinade, for Chicken,

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce,

1 tbsp. Dales low sodium,

1 tsp. each, garlic salt and Tony Chachere’s. If you have it, MSU Cajun Bully Seasoning is an awesome substitute for Tony’s in this and many other dishes!

Start by putting the chicken in a shallow dish. Mix the Stubb’s, Worcestershire, and Dales together in a small bowl and pour it over the chicken breasts. Take each chicken breast and let the bottom side get some of the marinade on it. Now mix the garlic salt and Tony’s together and sprinkle it liberally over the chicken. I usually let this sit for at least 15 minutes, longer if I think about it. Then I slide it on the grill! I can’t tell ya how long. It just depends on the temperature of your grill. You’ll be able to tell if it’s right. If you have a meat thermometer, 165 is the internal temp. I tell by the way it feels. If it’s limp and there’s a lot of juice coming out, it’s not done. If you pick it up with a fork or tongs and it’s pretty stiff, no juices coming out, it’s probably done. Ya’ll are smart, ya’ll can tell! 🙂 Now, I’ve never used this in the oven but I’m sure it would be awesome if you wanted to bake it instead of grilling the chicken.

grilled chicken

It was really good all by itself, but I made it earlier in the week and put it on a bed of romaine lettuce with some of that White Wine Vinaigrette Dressing from the Crunchy Romaine Salad. It was delicious and even though the dressing is made with sugar, I felt super healthy! That dressing can also be made with Splenda or you could use a bottled vinaigrette, Italian, or even some Ranch dressing! It was awesome and it looks so gorgeous!

grilled chicken salad

So, after I got off the phone with my brother, rolled around in bed for like 20 minutes trying to go back to sleep, groaned a few times, ignored another phone call, and stretched, I jumped out of bed and quickly got dressed! I literally ran (well not really, I don’t run… if you see me runnin’ you should run too ’cause I’m running from something BAD!) to the store. I gathered all the things I would need because I pretty much didn’t have anything at all that I needed for it. It was like that old TV show. You know the one? Where they give you a buggy and a certain time period and then you run through the store and whoever gets the most expensive groceries wins? Something along those lines. Man, I always wanted to be on that show! Supermarket Sweep, I think. Anyway… It was like that. Except I was trying to get the cheaper stuff… ya’ gotta be frugal! After my sweep of the grocery store, a quick stop at Sonic to get a cold drink, and the drive home, I threw the potatoes in the oven and started getting the other stuff ready. I was ready to scream at my brother by the time I was done. But then I tasted these potatoes and I was just about ready to kiss him! They were super delicious! This is a pretty simple recipe. It just takes a little time, but no real skill. The recipe is also super versatile, so you can change it to suit your needs. Loaded Baked Potatoes are just about my favorite thing in the world! So, that’s what I did.

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes:

8 russet potatoes,

1 cup sour cream,

1 cup cheddar cheese,

3/4 cup Real Bacon Bits,

3 green onions,

1 stick butter,

Salt, Black Pepper, Tony Chachere’s.

Wash and scrub potatoes well, make sure the skins are clean. Dry them off and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 1 hour. I left mine “naked” I didn’t put any olive oil, salt, or even aluminum foil on them. This helps that skin get tough so it’s easier to cut, scoop, and refill the skins. Once they’ve baked take them out of the oven and turn the temp down to 350 degrees. Get a large towel, grab one potato at a time, and cut it in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the center of the potato. You can do this two ways. First, you can either leave a little bit of the inside in to give yourself a stiffer potato, or you can scoop out as much of the inside as possible. In order to keep the shape of the potato, I left a small amount of the potato around the edges. Like this:

twice baked potatoes By the way… this isn’t my picture… I found it online! 🙂

Scoop out the potato and put it in a bowl. Once you’ve scooped out all the potatoes, lie the empty skins on the cookie sheet. You may need another cookie sheet. Now, add the sour cream, cheese, butter, green onions, bacon bits, salt, pepper, and Tony’s to the potato and mix it up really good. I added white pepper to mine, but I know that not everyone has white pepper. I personally love it! After that, refill the skins and top with a little extra cheese. Then bake for about 10 minutes. Just until everything is melted. You can do so much with this recipe. It would be good with ham or turkey. Some black olives. You could even do taco meat or pulled chicken or grilled chicken. I think it would be excellent with some grilled chicken, pesto, and feta cheese. Pretty much anything you like in a potato would be great in this. This was enough for our lunch and our dinner and we still had one half left over. You could easily make this for one person too and just make it your meal!

I love Lemon Ice Box pie… honestly, I just love pie… who doesn’t?!?!? But, Lemon Ice Box is super easy and I normally have most of the stuff in my fridge and pantry for it. Except the lemons. I use fresh lemons, I’m pretty sure you can use the bottled juice; I’ve just never done it. It sure is a pain in the rear to juice those lemons though! It just takes forever to only get a half a cup of juice! I know, I’m pitiful! I must say though… this pie was well worth it! I’ve already given ya’ll a recipe for an fabulous homemade Graham Cracker Crust. Ya’ll can use a store bought crust, I won’t hold it against you! But I love the sweetness and crunch of the homemade. It’s easy, fast, and cheap to make and I’m sure you could make it and freeze it or seal it in a zip lock bag or container to have on hand for no bake pies like this one! I used my Graham Cracker Crust and filled it with this lemony, velvety, filling that just melted on your tongue and had just a hint of that lemony tartness that I LOVE about Lemon Icebox Pie. Then I topped it with some Homemade Whipped Cream that complimented it perfectly! To quote my niece, Hazie, “It was the best since EVER!” 🙂 Here’s what ya’ll will need!

Lemon Icebox Pie:

2 cups heavy whipping cream,

1 cup sugar,

6 egg yolks,

2 cans sweetened condensed milk,

1 cup lemon juice,

2 Graham Cracker Crust’s.

Whip the heavy whipping cream and half the sugar together until it reaches a stiff peak. Set aside for later. Whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until they are light and pale yellow in color. (I recommend using a stand up mixer or electric mixer for both of these steps.) Once the yolk mixture is a light yellow, slowly whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice into the yolk mixture. Gently but thoroughly fold in half of the previously whipped cream. I recommend tasting the filling before you put it in the crusts. You may want a little more lemon. Now, fill the crusts with the mixture. Put the pies in the refrigerator and allow it to sit for at least one hour. The whipped cream needs to be refrigerated during this time as well. Top the pies with the rest of the whipped cream. You can also garnish these with Nilla wafers or Meringue. I don’t particularly like Meringue so I don’t use it. You can also make the crust with Nilla’s but I’m partial to graham crackers. You may be asking why you can eat this filling without cooking it when it has egg yolks in it. The acidity in the lemons “cooks” the eggs, so it’s completely safe!

When I was growing up, we had Beef Rice-A-Roni a lot. I loved that stuff and still do! We didn’t have a lot of money so we stretched what we had as much as we could and Rice-A-Roni was cheap! I also have a hankering for Popeye’s dirty rice! I know… I probably shouldn’t but it’s so yummy! This past week, I came home from work late. I was exhausted and didn’t want to go to the grocery store. I had a few things that I could throw together but nothing sounded good. Suddenly, I saw this box of Uncle Ben’s Original White Rice and I thought about the package of hamburger meat I had in the fridge. I knew I needed to use the meat before it went bad and I had plans to go to the grocery store for my dad’s weekend home the next day. I figured, “Why not try making a dirty rice kinda dish?” I started looking for beef broth and couldn’t find any, I called my mom to bring some but she was going to be too long. So, I tried it without it and guess what? It was the best Dirty Rice-A-Roni that I’ve ever had. It was a little spicy, a little salty, but the best thing was that it was super filling and we had plenty left over for my nephews to take to school for lunch and for my dad to have as a late supper when he came in from Texas. Not only that but it was so easy to make and it made a lot! So this is what you’ll need!

Homemade Dirty Rice-A-Roni:

1 1/2 cups Uncle Ben’s Original or Long Grained White Rice,

3 1/2 cups water,

2 tbsp. butter,

1 1/2 lb ground chuck or ground round,

1 pkg. Jimmy Deen Sage ground sausage,

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped,

3 tbsp. Worcestershire,

1/2 cup. low sodium Soy Sauce,

1 tsp. minced garlic,

Cayenne Pepper, Chili powder, Salt, and Garlic Powder to taste.

Add the rice, water, and butter to a boiler and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, brown the sausage. What I did was let that sausage cook while I was waiting for the rice to boil, once the rice boiled, I covered it with a plate and used that plate to hold my sausage while I cooked my hamburger meat. It’s all about multi tasking and consolidation! 🙂

sausage

Once I had that heat reduced, the sausage cooked and waiting on the plate, I added the hamburger meat and onions to the same skillet I had used for my sausage. Then, I seasoned my hamburger meat with the minced garlic, cayenne, chili powder, salt, and garlic powder. I also added a little of the Worcestershire at this time.

hamburger meat and onions

I know it looks greasy, but that juice at the bottom is from the Worcestershire and the water from the onions and the grease all combining together. But the grease is really important in this dish. You see, when I add the rice, the grease and the juice coats it. The rice soaks the grease up and instead of being a greasy, nasty mess, it turn’s into this little kernel of flavor that will knock your socks off! So what you need to do is add the ground sausage to the hamburger meat. Mix it together, then add the rice. Stir it all together really well and then add the soy sauce. You want to make sure all the rice is coated in those delicious juices at the bottom of the skillet. It’s ready for you to eat. Taste and make sure it doesn’t need anymore seasoning and then serve it up. I serve it with English Peas and Corn. I’ve also already received requests for MORE!

Dirty Rice2 Dirty Rice

I would have loved to add some green or red bell pepper and maybe even a few finely diced carrots. Of course that would cook in with the hamburger meat and onions so it would be soft. You can add more spice or less, but I don’t recommend omitting the spices all together. Even if you only give it a little bit, the flavor gets in it and that’s what’s important, even if its not necessarily spicy! This dish brought back memories of my childhood and it really ended up being a little cheaper than the boxed stuff. I’m not sure on numbers; however, the boxed stuff only feeds four, whereas, this makes enough for at least 6 large servings. You could also use Minute Rice or Brown Rice or Rice Noodles even.

I hope ya’ll enjoyed this post and will enjoy these recipes as much as my family did! I’m sorry there weren’t more pictures but I’ll make up for it on the next one! Ya’ll have an awesome night and let me know how your recipes turn out!

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. You are absolutely a natural for this blog. I love your recipes, your confidence, your craziness, and your love for family and home cookin’. Keep it up and keep everyone that is following your blog a bit happier for you having taken the time to put a smile on their faces and giving them good cookin’ advice.

  2. susan schneeflock

    September 4, 2014 at 3:40 am

    I love your blog, always makes me happy. I also love all your recipes.. Great cooking!!!

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