Not-So-Gourmet

Nothing Fancy, Just Good Food

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I’m Back!!

I’m baaaaackkk… I know I’ve been gone for such a long time! I’m so sorry! I know it’s a sorry excuse but I been busy folks! As the holidays get closer and the weather gets colder, I’ve been busier! We had a real estate convention, several birthdays, the Parade of Homes, all sorts of people looking for new family homes just coming out of the woodworks, and Halloween! Not only that but there’s been FOOTBALL! Oh the football! For any college football fans out there y’all know this has been a season of upsets and at the very top of those upsets, my Bulldogs are sitting pretty at #1! And I’m not going to lie… I loved every minute of it… Now, I’m writing this as I’m riding down the Interstate on the way to Nebraska with my dad. We’re going huntin y’all! I’m so excited… This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons and I’m in hog heaven for now! After a busy week, making sure my clients are happy, my dogs are taken care of, my clothes are warm enough and clean enough to go on this trip, we’re on our way!

My moms birthday is Saturday and last night I made her favorite meal! Chicken tortellini with garlic bread and her favorite strawberry cake! So I’ll be giving y’all that recipe. I’ll also be giving y’all the recipe for some awesome Baked Ziti and a homemade Chicken Pot Pie that was DE-LISH! These are pretty easy recipes and I took some shortcuts on them that you don’t have to take. I’ll explain later! For right now, I’ll tell you about my mama. My best friend and my biggest supporter! Last week my brother called me, worried, from Disneyland with his family. He told me that he and my dad had this trip planned to Nebraska and now he didn’t think he should go. He said that with the trip to Disneyland and work being so busy for him, that he should stay at home to take care of business. My immediate response was “It’s Mamas birthday… I shouldn’t go” the next was “Dang it! Every time y’all plan these trips I can’t go!” I was upset but I didn’t want to leave mama on her birthday. I knew it would upset her if I wasn’t there and she was already upset my dad wouldn’t be there. A couple days later she brought it up and I told her the same thing. And she of course said that it was fine and I could go… She said that she didn’t want me to miss out and I resisted… at first. Finally though I decided that if she was okay with it I may as well go. Right? Why let a trip go to waste and I mean I may not ever get the opportunity to go again and I’ve always wanted to go! So after a long conversation and a lot of consideration I decided to come! I immediately went online and ordered a new coat, gloves, and socks… It’s gonna be SNOWING here people!!! I’m so pumped! And since I was missing such a big day for my mom I decided we should celebrate her birthday early… Hence last night’s dinner. My moms birthday falls at the worse time of the year… I feel awful for her, really I do… Rifle season is always starting up and there’s always a hunting trip. In some families and for some people, maybe even some of you, this is no excuse… In my family it’s kind of the norm. My dad some how is always gone on a hunting trip on her birthday… A couple years ago it was Canada, another year it was Texas, another it was Nebraska again, one year it was Africa… I’m gonna have to have a talk with that man! Hopefully next year he’ll be at home! It’s also a terrible time of year because my mom loves fresh fruits and veggies and her FAVORITE cake is a strawberry cake that I make with fresh strawberries. Ironically, the best cake I’ve ever made, is from a box! You don’t have to use a box, if you have a different recipe you can use that. But, you have to add a couple of essentials! Since it is winter, I bought strawberries from the Kroger produce section; however, you can use frozen if you want. This is what you’ll need.

news Strawberry Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake mix,

3 eggs,

1/3 cup of oil,

1 cup water,

4 oz. strawberry cream cheese,

1 cup sliced strawberries,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Mix the ingredients according to the directions on the package. Add the cream cheese & strawberries. You may need to add a little extra water if the batter looks too thick. I normally would have baked this in two round cake pans; but, since those somehow disappeared from my kitchen, I had to use a bundt pan. Butter the pan really well and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. I know that seems like a long time, keep an eye on it, it may vary depending on your oven or the type of pan you’re using.

strawberry cake

http://de-visu.fr/H9U/ Strawberry Icing:

2 pkg. cream cheese,

2 cups confectioners sugar,

1/2 cup granulated sugar,

1 tsp. vanilla,

1 cup strawberries, sliced,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Place the sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sugar over the top of them. Cover and let them sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Once the cream cheese is softened, add it to a mixer with the vanilla, jello, and confectioners sugar. It’s not going to seem like there is enough water in it to make the icing; once you add the strawberries this will not be a problem. You see, as those strawberries sit in the sugar, the moisture is pulled off of them and this delicious juice is created. That juice is the reason that this icing is runny. But, it’s so delicious that I can’t change the recipe. So, after you get all the other ingredients well incorporated, add those strawberries, with the juice, a little at a time. I always save a little bit to put on top of the cake.

strawberries w sugar strawberry icing

Once everything is nice and creamy and icing-y, pour the icing on the cake or spread it on there if it’s thick enough.

strawberry caked iced

It’s not perfect and could be done much prettier but my mama liked it! I hope ya’ll do to! 🙂

So, it’s getting cold again and what is better after a long, cold day than a nice hot chicken pot pie fresh from the oven? It’s just comfort food at it’s finest! I make mine several different ways and on the day I made this, I was in a hurry and very short on time. So, I did the unthinkable… I used a STORE BOUGHT CRUST!! Ugh! The horror! Haha… I bought a Pillsbury Crescent roll seamless crust and it was easy, delicious, and I don’t even feel guilty about it so NAH! 🙂 There are a million ways to make pot pie. You can even use a rotisserie chicken. Or biscuit dough. But, this is how I do it!

international dating site Chicken Pot Pie:

3 chicken breasts, (your choice),

1 can chicken broth,

1 can cream of chicken soup,

5 carrots,

1 bag frozen peas,

2 medium red potatoes,

1 medium onion,

2 Pillsbury dough sheets,

3 tbsp. flour,

Garlic salt, Tony Chachere’s, Ground Black Pepper.

Boil the chicken. Chop and dice the carrots, potatoes, and onion. Add the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, carrots, potatoes, onion, and peas into a boiler and bring to a boil. Add your seasonings and the flour. You want those vegetables to cook a little. Once it’s nice and thick, add the chicken. Grease a casserole dish well and lay out one of the dough sheets. Top with the chicken mixture and add the other dough sheet.

chicken pot pie 2 chicken pot pie 3

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Until the dough is nice and crumbly. You can also brush some melted butter on the outside of the dough about 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

chicken pot pie 4

You can see where someone had to take a little taste before I took my picture… It may or may not have been someone who is writing this post… Don’t judge me 🙂 This is so delicious and its a great comfort food and it seriously takes no time at all to make! I usually serve this with salad or some crescent rolls and creamed corn. Yum!

The other day, I was watching the Pioneer Woman and she had this amazing recipe for Baked Ziti and salad. I couldn’t get it out of my mind so after I got done with my weekend work, I rushed to the grocery and got to work. I didn’t have her recipe so I just did it from what I could remember and it turned out pretty good! I also couldn’t find Ziti noodles so I used Penne. You can pretty much use any kind of noodles for this. Even lasagna. After all, Baked Ziti is a lot like lasagna. You could even buy the cheese stuffed tortellini and ravioli from the cold section and use that. So this is my Baked Penne….

http://waocubo.com/maljavka/6637 Baked Ziti/Penne:

1 jar spaghetti sauce,

12 oz. tomato paste,

1 medium onion,

1 green bell pepper,

3 garlic cloves,

1 lb. hamburger meat,

1 lb. Italian sausage,

15 oz. ricotta cheese,

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded,

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded,

1 pkg. ziti or penne noodles,

Garlic salt, oregano, basil, red pepper, parsley.

Chop the onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves. Place the spaghetti sauce and tomato paste in a boiler, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and seasoniongs to the sauce. Allow it to simmer while you brown the hamburger meat and Italian sausage. Boil the noodles and drain. Now, combine the meat, sauce, noodles, and ricotta cheese. Pour into a baking dish and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Again, I serve this with salad and garlic bread. Soooo delicious and much faster than lasagna!

Man! All this travel and all this talk about food…. I’m STARVING! We’re almost to the lodge and I’m ready for a snack! Hope to see ya’ll soon! I’m sure I will considering the Holidays are coming up and I have a TON of holiday recipes to share with ya’ll! I know I know… ya’ll miss me and need me to be more present in your life…. I shall try! Wish me luck! I see a big whitetail in my future! Or El Jeffe Grande as my dad says!! Brrrr…. I hope my stand has a heater!

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Creations!

Hey Ya’ll!! Okay, I know I haven’t written in a while! I’m so sorry 🙁 I’ve been crazy busy and I had a real estate conference in Florida last week. We had so much fun at the conference, we saw some great speakers, met a lot of awesome people, and had an awesome time bonding as a company. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Front Gate Realty ROCKS! Before I got my license, my goal was just to sell my own flip houses. I wasn’t really excited about getting my license, my mom is always so busy and she’s always running around crazy, worrying about not having clients, running off to meet someone, talking on the phone 24/7. None of that was ever appealing to me. I am probably that one girl that hates talking on the phone. Like, I have to really enjoy talking to someone to talk to them on the phone. Call it a generational challenge, because of all the texts and emails and AOL messenger, whatever, I just don’t like talking on the phone that much. Give me a phone and I’ll text you all day long honey but don’t ask me to call. I can’t focus… I’m like that kid with A.D.D. when I’m taking a phone call. I will literally be having a conversation about houses and looking at the TV or computer screen at the same time, not even hearing half of what is being said, thinking about the pretty colors. It gets me in trouble. I don’t like it 🙂 But, once I started getting a couple clients and looking at more houses and spending more time with my co-workers, I  loved it! Don’t get me wrong… I still hate talking on the phone and I’m always busy. I always worry about where my next client and my next paycheck is coming from. I’m always looking for new ideas on how to better my business for cheap. But, the fact of the matter is, I love my job. The pay is awesome when it’s there and it really forced me out of my comfort zone. I’m kind of a weird person. I’m incredibly shy and outgoing at the same time. I will not just walk up to a group of people and start talking to them like I’ve known them my whole life, I get horribly shy in front of crowds and I HATE public speaking. But if there’s a single person, standing alone, looking friendly, I’ll talk to them. And if it’s a group of people I know, you can’t get me to shut up. Seriously… you’ll probably be begging me to be quiet because I also have a tendency to be bluntly honest. Most people don’t take it as insulting because I’m so sweet 🙂 but some people probably should! Haha…. anyways…. This job has forced me to talk more and more to people I normally wouldn’t approach and talk to. It’s also forced me to brag on myself a bit more than I normally would so please excuse me if I get too cocky! 😉 All that being said, I don’t think that I would have made it in this industry, had I not been here at Front Gate. Everyone is so supportive, so much fun, and also bluntly honest. They’re not afraid to call me out and tell me, “Hey, Calah, stop hanging around writing about cooking and food and get to work! You need clients.” I still say this blog is self promotion though… I mean… ya’ll would buy houses from me right? Who wouldn’t? 🙂

So, technically I’m supposed to be done with my AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge BUTTTTT I got off the wagon while I was at my conference. I’m a terrible, awful person with absolutely no will power 🙂 OOPS! But seriously, it’s not necessarily that I didn’t have any will power it was just super hard to conform to all the criteria there. The thing is, I was there with 8 people, we would go to a restaurant and I would search the menu for things that I could eat and I couldn’t find anything that was really 100% AdvoCare friendly. I thought, being close to the ocean and having access to a lot of fresh seafood would help. However, almost every restaurant we went to was more about fried seafood and heavy cream sauces. I did try to stick as close to it as I could. At least for the first couple of days. Eating small portions of anything I could find that was grilled or blackened, snacking on almonds, and drinking my water! But by Day 3 of our vacation, I was exhausted with it! I wanted be like all the other cool kids eating the yummy, fried, stuff! 🙂 So, I fell off the wagon, I stopped eating breakfast, I was more lax with my choices when I was ordering at restaurants and I paid dearly! First, I didn’t gain any weight back, which is good. But I didn’t lose anymore either. Also, after that cleanse phase, your body is so cleaned out of impurities that the first bite you take of something that isn’t pure will make you kind of sick. Also, I was taking the Max C vitamins before I left and for a couple days while I was there. These vitamins have a heavy appetite suppressant along with more than 50 vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, antioxidants and other nutrients that support health and wellness. This means you’re taking 12 pills by lunch time. There’s nothing wrong with taking these vitamins and I think that if you take vitamins before you start the program it doesn’t affect you as badly; however, for me I was so sick that I was miserable. Well, I took these for a couple days and the nausea was finally subsiding when I fell off the wagon. Now that I’m back to it… I feel awful! I take one packet 15 minutes before breakfast and one at breakfast. Around 11:30 I start feeling a little better. Then I take my next packet, 30 minutes before lunch and the packet at lunch and I’m sick again until about 2. It’s not as intense after lunch… it’s just an annoying burning sensation in the pit of your stomach. It’s better when I get up and move around and get to work. But it’s really hard to get the energy to get up and get to work. I know that sounds awful, but after the first couple of days it’s not so bad. I think it would be better if I ate with my breakfast instead of drinking my shake. The only thing is, I really like drinking a shake for breakfast. At lunch and supper, I always feel like I need some real food. Something salty, some protein. Not a sweet, chocolate shake. I may have to change up though! After lunch today, I felt a lot better. And drinking water with lemon really helped my nausea. I’m still enjoying what I’m eating that is AdvoCare friendly and after eating so bad last week I felt a huge difference in how I felt last week and this weekend versus how I feel now that I’m back on track. I know that my weight loss won’t be quite the same since I took those days off and lost all the progress I made in my Cleanse phase but I will still lose a little weight and can start the cleanse again in a couple months.

Now, for the recipes! Since the weather has been kind of cool, I’ve been in a soup/chili making mood. I’ve also been pretty busy so I’ve been using my crockpot a LOT! So this week and part of last week I made Chicken Chili, Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos, and Veggie Soup. So those are the recipes I’ll be giving ya’ll today!

I love the fall, as I’m sure I have mentioned before. Mostly I love the way it makes me feel. For some reason, I’m happier when it’s colder outside. Plus, all the holidays are so much fun. When I was growing up, my mamaw’s favorite time of year was Fall too and I guess I get it from her. Her favorite thing in the world was for all of us to be together as a family. As she and my papaw got older, they had to move from their home in Jackson, to a place closer to us. We have a good bit of land so my dad just built them a little one bedroom, one bathroom cabin type of house on our property. My mamaw would be so upset if we didn’t come over for dinner every night. It had to be at her house, we could never do it at our house, even though ours was bigger. Around 6:30 every night, we would all crowd around her little dinner table and have a family meal though. One of her go to recipes for this time of year, was Beef & Veggie soup. We all love it and it’s definitely something that makes us feel nostalgic. Now, Mamaw liked to use stew meat or chunks of sirloin; but my mom, as always, only likes hamburger meat in hers. So Mamaw would make a little pot with hamburger meat in it for her and for the rest of us, she would make it with big chunks of stew meat. It’s been a long time since I  had it with stew meat because I always try to do things the easiest way possible. It’s made even easier in the crockpot. Yea, I know… I’m lazy! Haha! Now, I have several versions of this soup but the easiest and quickest version is to use canned or frozen veggies. Using canned is my favorite way because all the juice that is in the vegetables creates a beautiful and delicious stock and broth for the soup. I also add some French Onion soup or beef broth as well. However, for my AdvoCare purposes, I used organic canned veggies and organic chicken broth. I wanted to use ground turkey but I knew my mom wouldn’t eat it so I just did very lean, 90/10 ground beef. This is how I do it and some variations are underneath the recipe.

antm cycle 20 marvin and renee dating Beef & Vegetable Soup:

2 lbs. lean ground beef,

1 can golden sweet corn,

2 cans French style green beans,

1 can diced tomatoes,

1 can crushed tomatoes,

1 can beef broth, French Onion soup, or Chicken broth (low sodium),

3 medium red potatoes, quartered,

1 small onion,

1 bunch fresh carrots, washed & sliced, (optional),

2 beef or chicken bouillon cubes, depending on which broth you used. (If you used French onion, go with beef)

Garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Brown ground beef and drain off grease, set aside. Dice onion and set aside. Open all cans and pour into crockpot. Add seasonings, onions, carrots, potatoes, and beef. Stir well and cover, cooking it low and slow for about 10 hours. If you do this in the after noon you can cook it on high for 4 hours. I try to do mine in the mornings and just let it cook while I’m at work! You can do this with any type of vegetables that you like. Butter beans, spinach, zucchini, squash, English peas… anything! You can even add elbow noodles or black beans… For the meat, if you want to you can use chicken breasts, turkey breasts, ground chicken, ground turkey, or lean ground beef. If you choose to use stew meat, they sell it packaged as stew meat at the grocery store, sirloin chunks, or even cheaper roast is ok to use to. I recommend cooking any ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground beef prior to putting it with the other stuff… It gets kind of mushy if you let it cook in the crockpot… You can also do this on the stove top with a lid, allowing it to simmer for about 45 minutes.

Growing up in our house, chili was Papaw’s thing. My mom would always say, “Papaw makes the best chili and cornbread.” And it was true… he taught her and she taught me. I know you’re thinking that there is no way to make chili healthy but there is a way to make AdvoCare friendly. I used Organic canned tomato sauce and added black beans. I also used No Sugar Added Diced Tomatoes and made my own chili seasoning, I also used chicken instead of beef… In hind sight, I probably should have cut that chicken into cubes; however, I just put the breasts in whole, cooked it, then shredded the breasts before I served it. Papaw always poured a little beer in his and he always served it with cornbread… I like it with Fritos… With AdvoCare I limit myself to a couple crackers though. If you’re looking for a good cornbread recipe, you can find mine here. I also use a crockpot for this; but, you can use a big stew pot too. I made some a while back in my Dutch Oven and just let it simmer most of the day. If you’re looking to do it pretty quick, you only have to let it cook for about 45 minutes.

forex binary options system omni11 Calah’s CrockPot Chicken Chili:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 medium onion,

2 garlic cloves,

1 can Tomato sauce,

1 can Petit Diced tomatoes, (16 oz. can),

2 cans Dark Red Kidney beans,

2 cans Black Beans,

1 can corn,

3 tbsp. chili powder,

2 tsp. cumin,

1 tsp. paprika,

1 tsp. garlic powder,

1 tsp. salt,

1 tsp. red pepper,

A dash of cinnamon.

I know, I know, I know, that looks like a lot of stuff… It’s really not as much as it seems. You can also use a chili seasoning packet… my favorite is Wick Fowler’s 5 Alarm Chili… It’s pretty much the same thing I just gave you except, they add a packet of Masa Flour. Which is good, I just hardly ever have Masa flour on hand at home. They also don’t put cinnamon in it. I think it adds a little depth to the flavor though! Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your crock pot, add the tomatoes, beans, and corn. Dice up the onion and garlic cloves and add that in. You may have to add a little water. Now, add all the seasonings except the red pepper. Stir it all up, cover it, and let it cook low and slow for the rest of the day… You can chop up those chicken breasts too but I kinda enjoyed it shredded. I also added a little dill weed in mine… About 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it, add your red pepper and pull out those chicken breasts. If you didn’t cut them into chunks of course… Shred them, add them back, and stir them up really good.

chicken chili 1 chicken chili 2 chicken chili 3

You can do lean ground beef or ground turkey with this too. Or do it vegetarian style with no meat. Another option is to soak dry red beans instead of using canned but it may take a little too long. If you want to make a quick version, not using the crockpot, I would boil the chicken first!

When I first started AdvoCare, I asked Stephanie what her favorite recipes were and her immediate response was Cilantro Lime Chicken! Our office manager, Jeanette, overheard us talking about it and asked for the recipe too. That was on a Friday and by Monday Jeanette had made it her new favorite! So, of course, I had to try it! It’s super easy to make and something you can throw all together really quick and leave cooking in the crockpot all day or for just a few hours. I forgot and put mine on around lunch.

kamagra 100mg oral jelly india price Cilantro Lime Chicken:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 jar chunky salsa,

1 medium onion, sliced,

2 cloves garlic, minced,

2 limes,

1 packet taco seasoning,

1 cup water,

1 tbsp. chopped cilantro, you can add more if you’d like.

Just like with the chili, place the breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Cover with the rest of the ingredients, I added a little garlic salt to mine. Let it cook for at least 4 hours…. once the chicken is done, gently lift it out of the sauce. I say gently because it will fall apart in a matter of seconds. Shred it with a fork and put it back in the crockpot. Stir it all up and serve! I served it with some tortillas, lettuce, black olives, fat free sour cream, and fat free cheese. You can serve it over rice or have it by itself with some kind of vegetable. Even with a salad. This was something that even my nephews liked, which is what I was worried about. They always want soft tacos, meat and cheese only, rice, no beans! Haha but Judd was actually scooping this up with tortilla chips. Which brings up a new idea of lining muffin tins with crescent rolls or tortillas, putting this in the middle, and topping it with cheese. Let it bake for about 10 minutes, just until the tortilla gets a little crunchy and the cheese melts. Or roll it up into a tortilla, cover it with cheese, and bake it. Or put it inside a crescent roll and bake. Very versatile and very good for everybody!!

All these recipes are super easy and super versatile. It’s easy to just stick all the ingredients in a crock pot and let it go while you go about your day! It’s nice to come home to a cooked meal and a clean kitchen! Plus, it’s all AdvoCare and kid friendly. And it’s perfect for these cold, winter nights! I hope ya’ll enjoy them as much as we have! I know I will be making them all again pretty soon! Ya’ll have a good night!!

 

 

Day 5-8 AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge

So today is only Day 8 of my AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge, it’s been barely a whole week, and I’m already seeing a huge difference!! Not only am I feeling better but, I’m also fitting into clothes that didn’t fit when I started! Whoo-hoo!!! This morning, I woke up, jumped out of bed, and began getting ready for my day. I could tell it was going to be a good day! It took everything in me not to whistle as I went about my morning routine. I went downstairs, grabbed my Orange flavored Propel water for my fiber drink, a regular bottle for my Spark, made my breakfast, and hauled it back upstairs to eat and drink while I got dressed. I’ve decided that drinking the SPARK on an empty stomach is giving me indigestion. My body is weird and I often get indigestion if I drink coffee on an empty stomach. So I’ve been drinking it with my breakfast instead of 30 minutes before. It seems to be working out and I’m feeling a good deal better in the morning! But, this morning I felt better than ever! After I finished my breakfast, makeup, and hair I began getting my clothes together. Rewind, to last week when I tried on a pair of jeans, last Friday before my 24 day Challenge began, and they didn’t fit. I hung them up in my closet and today I grabbed them by accident. I saw they were the wrong ones and went to put them back. Somewhere between my mirror and my closet I decided to see if they were closer to fitting! I pulled them up and buttoned and zipped them with ease! I was on cloud 9! I had to call and tell err-body!! I am still so dang excited!! My mom absolutely couldn’t believe it. She keeps telling me that she can’t believe I’m dieting because it doesn’t seem like I’m suffering! And she’s right! I don’t feel like I’m dieting at all! I mean obviously every now and then I’m like “ohhhh fried chicken.” Or “Yum! Chick Fil A Spicy Chicken Sandwich” or “Dang, Mom, get those tater tots away from me before I devour them and the finger that is holding the one in your hand!” But with a couple deep breaths I’ve been doing pretty dang good! I’m proud of myself 🙂 Saturday, Day 6, was my hardest day! I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve been doing a good bit of cardio or if I just didn’t eat enough Saturday morning but I was STARVING all day! ALL DAY! I went to lunch with my mom and sister at SoulShine, she was 30 minutes and I had to order some hummus while I waited! And then, it took all the will power in my entire being not to eat all the pita bread and all the hummus that came with my order. I did eat my little portion, a grilled chicken salad, and then some cucumbers from my salad dipped in the hummus! I was insatiable! When I got home, I chugged some water, and took the dogs for a long walk. I went over to my friend Chad’s for supper and visited with him and Bella. As soon as I got there I was ready to eat. Of course, we had steaks and I was ready to put them on the grill but he wanted to finish watching one of the twelve games he was flipping between at the time. So I ate some almonds and tried my best to calmly wait for him to finish his game. It was difficult and it was pretty obvious to him because he laughed and said, “Hungry huh?” I just quietly nodded with a guilty look on my face! He finally took the hint and started his grill! I gobbled my steak and brown rice and finally filled the bottomless pit that was my stomach that day! I can’t really complain though. I’ve lost a couple inches and a couple pounds and the best part is that I’m feeling great! More energy, I’m sleeping better, I’m getting my routine down. So far I’ve only needed my SPARK once a day. There was one day that I needed another one but that was just because I was staring at a computer screen from 9-7 and I couldn’t have coffee… This weekend I’ve cooked a couple of really good things. I did forget to take some pictures before the food was devoured; but, I got some before they were cooked 🙂 I made some pork tenderloin, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, and guacamole on Sunday. And tonight, I made some grilled tilapia and roasted green beans and red potatoes. I’ve never really been a huge guacamole fan, but I’ve gotten to where I can eat it with a little salt. I found some organic, blue corn tortilla chips that don’t have any sugars, but they do have carbs and calories so I’m still careful not to eat too many of them! For those of you that are interested those are Garden Of Eatin’ Organic Blue Corn Chips. They are delicious and a healthier alternative to regular chips when veggies just won’t do it! I’ve also been eating a lot of Simply Organic roasted almonds, green and purple grapes, strawberries, and apples. I bought some Brown Sugar Splenda to sweeten Sweet Potatoes, but you have to be careful with that because, while it is Splenda, the serving sizes are small! 1/2 tsp. packed. So, use it but don’t be too generous with it! I’ve also been substituting coconut oil and olive oil for butter and no one has really missed it. And if they did, they added it to it while fixing their plates! Pork Loin is among the many, many things that my mom doesn’t like to eat. That woman and her pickiness, I swear are going to be the death of me 😉 So, I made her pork chops with the same marinade on them as the pork loin. I put a lot of stuff on my pork loin, but it’s worth it! I bake mine in the oven; but, you can do it on a grill if you’d like.

Pork Tenderloin:

1 pork tenderloin,

1/2 cup Dale’s sauce,

1/2 cup Worcestershire,

1/4 cup Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing,

3 Basil leaves,

2 Sage leaves,

4 green onions,

Garlic salt, white pepper, onion powder, and red pepper to taste.

The pork loin usually comes cut in half; however, if yours isn’t, I would cut it in half. It takes FOREVER to cook if you keep it whole. Pour the dressing, Worcestershire, and Dale’s over the loin. Sprinkle the seasonings to taste. Chop the basil, sage, and green onion. Sprinkle that over the top as well. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. You can also use Herbs De Provence on this and it’s delicious! I just refuse to buy the Herbs De Provence because it’s about $10 for a jar of it and that’s just ridiculous. Although, I did find some at Ramey’s for $3.99. This is also really good with Peach preserves. I know that sounds weird but it’s really good! I can’t have any preserves though so that’s for you unhealthy people out there. 🙂 I’m sure you can get organic preserves or no sugar added preserves too if you’d like.

Roasted vegetables are a Hall family favorite. Mostly broccoli but I mix it all together to make it go further; plus, I really like carrots and corn. I added asparagus to this too because I know my brother and sister in law love it. I’m not opposed to it, but it drives me crazy breaking off the tough ends! It takes forever! So, I only do that every now and then. 🙂 Its’ really easy and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time. I used Simply Organic Canned Corn, Organic Baby Carrots, and Organic Asparagus Stalks, but I used a container of chopped and cleaned fresh Broccoli from Kroger. It’s cheaper and it’s easier to use! Roasted Veggies:

1 bunch Asparagus,

1 bunch regular carrots or 1 pkg. baby carrots,

1 can corn,

1 pkg. chopped broccoli or 2 medium heads broccoli,

1/4 cup olive oil,

Garlic powder, sea salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

Lay the carrots and asparagus on the bottom and put the corn and broccoli on top. Splash the olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle the seasonings over them. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes. Until the carrots are soft. This is also good with a little lemon juice. roasted veggies

My sweet little niece hasn’t been eating very well lately but she devoured this! Mostly the broccoli and the carrots and then some of her mom’s pork! I caught little Mr. “I’m not hungry, I don’t like that, that smells gross, can I have some candy” Jeffery digging some out after we put it up and I was a little disappointed when I noticed there was no more broccoli left.. 🙂 Bottom line, it was delicious and healthy and everyone enjoyed it without realizing it was “diet food.”

My mom, ever the picky one, had to make some rice because she didn’t want to try my mashed sweet potatoes. She said that she would never in her life eat mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, or sweet potato casserole. The only sweet potatoes she eats are sweet potato fries and baked sweet potatoes. I told her that one of these days I was going to blind fold her and feed her all the foods that she won’t eat because of what I tell her it is or because of the way it looks. Seriously, she bakes a sweet potato, opens it up, and puts pretty much everything that I put in this in it, then mashes it up and stirs it all around so that it looks exactly the same as my mashed sweet potatoes, and eats it like it’s going out of style… It’s pretty much exactly the same thing except it’s baked and served with the skin on. Hmmm…maybe I should make twice baked sweet potatoes and see if she’ll eat that!!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes:

6 sweet potatoes, peeled,

1 tbs. coconut oil,

1 tbs. ground cinnamon,

1 tsp. brown sugar Splenda,

Splenda to taste.

Put the sweet potatoes in a boiler and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 15 minutes. Until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the water off and add the coconut oil, cinnamon, and Splenda. You can add a little Parkay Spray Butter or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray. And if you aren’t dieting you can add regular brown sugar and regular butter. I thought about chopping up some pecans and throwing them in too. I was just in a hurry! mashed sweet potatoes

Ms. Ellie Frank ate this up too! Even though my mean mama wouldn’t even taste a bite! URGH! I hate when someone says my food isn’t good when I know it is! Annoying! 🙂 She really liked my guacamole though… I guess I’ll have to give her a break on the mashed sweet potatoes. She and my dad both said it was the best they ever ate! They were probably just saying that but I thought it was pretty good too! The secret to good guacamole is a good avocado. There are lots of ways to tell if an avocado is ripe or not. Firmness and color are great indicators; however, I use a little trick that is much easier. Flick off the little dried up stump that is on the end of the avocado. If it’s brown, it’s too ripe; if it’s yellow, it’s not ripe enough; if it’s a pretty green color it’s just right.

Guacamole:

3 ripe avocados,

1 lime,

1/2 red onion,

4 green onions,

Salt to taste.

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the green. Roll the lime on the counter top, cut in half, and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Chop the onions and add to the avocado. Sprinkle in the salt and mix it all together until all the chunks are out! I ate it with the Blue Corn chips that I mentioned earlier but you can also eat it with veggies. My family has never been really big on fish. Unless it was fried of course! 🙂 I bought Tilapia filets from the meat department at Kroger. They didn’t have any packaged already so I asked for some at the counter. They were about a half inch thick. I wanted a nice sweetish, soy sauce type of marinade on them so I mixed together a sort of dressing. It was really simple to make and I already had all the stuff at home. Grilled Tilapia:

3 tilapia filets,

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil,

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar,

1 small lime,

1 small lemon,

3 tbsp. soy sauce,

1 tsp. brown sugar Splenda,

1/2 tsp. minced garlic and ground mustard, Salt, red pepper, and black pepper to taste.

Lemon Pepper, for the top of the fish.

Place the fish in a shallow dish.

tilapia

In a separate bowl, mix oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, Splenda, soy sauce, garlic, salt, and peppers. Stir it together really well and pour it over the filets. Then sprinkle with lemon pepper and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.

tilapia marinade

I transferred the filets over to a foil covered cookie sheet and sat that on the grill. I allowed it to cook about 5 minutes on each side. Now it got really tender and a little hard to flip, so they fell all apart. I suggest wrapping the filets in individual tin foil pockets. It’ll be easier to cook and clean up is just unwrapping the fish and throwing away the foil! Serve with a little dish of cut up lemons and limes to squeeze over the top while you eat! Yummy!!

Okay, so I promise I know other way to cook vegetables other than roasting them but that just seems to be the theme this week! I made roasted red potatoes and green beans on the side of this tilapia and it definitely worked really good together! I bought fresh green beans from the farmer’s market. With these, you have to snap the ends off or they’ll be kinda stringy. So wash them and snap the ends off before you use them. You can do fresh frozen or organic canned if you want, but for AdvoCare purposes fresh is best! 😉

Roasted Red Potatoes & Green Beans:

7 small red potatoes,

1 pound green beans,

1/2 cup olive oil & vinegar dressing,

1 small onion,

Garlic salt and black pepper to taste.

Scrub and chop the red potatoes into small wedges. Clip the ends of the green beans. Place the potatoes in one side of a casserole dish and the green beans on the other side.

roasted potatoes and green beans

Chop the onions and sprinkle on. Pour the dressing over and season judiciously.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Check on them every 10 or 15 minutes and stir. This will help the veggies cook more evenly. The beans will still be a little crunchy but the potatoes should be fork tender! Everyone seemed to love this! Especially my mom! She said that if this was diet food, she’d eat it every day!! Judd really liked the fish and I thought the boys wouldn’t touch it! Jeffery took a bite of mine and said it was good but he just wanted chicken! 🙂 Melissa seemed to like it too so I would say it was pretty well received! 🙂

I took the puppies walking again today right before I started cooking supper. They were not a hundred percent impressed. Duchess came with us this time and I couldn’t find her leash so I just let her walk free. I got a quarter of a mile into my walk and I looked back to see where she was. The silly girl had just laid down and was waiting for me to come back to her. She was like “Ok, I’ve had enough, you have fun and I’ll catch up later.” lazy duchess lazy duchess 2

I took her back home and continued to walk before Whiskey tuckered out on me too. He didn’t lay down though… I was walking along with his leash in my hand when it suddenly started to pull back. I looked back and my sweet, silly boy had decided he was going to walk back to the house with or without me. So I turned around and took him back. It’s funny though… He started running when we got to the house… one minute he could barely walk another step and the next he had enough energy to run back home!

Whisker's in a hurry

Oh well… I guess I’m going to have to start bringing him back halfway through!! These lazy bums! 🙂 Ya’ll have a good night! Can’t wait to see what the next couple days have in store for me!!

Days 1-4 AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge

Hey ya’ll! I hope ya’ll have been doing as good as I have over the past few days! I just started my AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge! I noticed a difference on the very first day and have been a little up and down since then. I feel awesome, there’s no doubt about that; however, I wasn’t eating enough and on Day 3 had a little problem with my sugar getting low! The problem was pretty much that I wasn’t hungry. Days 1-10 are the Cleanse Phase, this eliminates the toxins from your system and allows you to start fresh pretty much. They AdvoCare Challenge is pretty much a low carb, low sugar, low calorie plan. I don’t want to call it a diet because it has been so easy to follow that it’s not really a diet to me. Can I go to the fast food restaurant down the street and get whatever I want? Not if I want to actually lose weight haha but I can go to Wendy’s and have a salad or grilled chicken wrap or some chili. I can go to Chick-fil-a and have a grilled chicken something with a fruit cup. I’m still able to lead my regular life and eat out with family and friends when I want to without the “diet” restricting me too much! I am in no way trying to sell AdvoCare to ya’ll but if you want an easy to follow way to lose weight, gain energy, or just plain feel a little better from day to day… I think ya’ll should try it. 🙂

It’s no secret that I want to lose weight. I’m a very confident person and I like the way I look. I’m happy… I love to eat and I love to cook and I just really love food; but, not everything I love is good for me and over the years a lot of the things I love have helped me put on quite a few pounds! My decision to start doing AdvoCare started with a doctor’s appointment, like most decisions to lose weight do. This time, it wasn’t anything the doctor really said, although my blood pressure wasn’t perfect; it was what the scales said. I went to the doctor at the beginning of the summer and just a couple weeks ago and I realized on my last visit that I had gained almost 10 pounds in a 2 month time period. When I realized this, I was like “uh-uh honey, I’m losing some weight, I ain’t going up another size in clothes!” I’ve heard about AdvoCare (mostly about SPARK) a good bit over the past year and I checked into it a while back. I thought it was too expensive and I didn’t want it badly enough. So, a word to the wise… if you don’t want it, if you don’t have the motivation, don’t spend the money on it! When I saw those scales at the doctor’s office though, I figured I could give it a try for at least one month and if I didn’t like it fine and if I did like it that would be good too. So I spoke with my friend Stephanie, who I believe I mentioned in my last post. Her husband and her do AdvoCare on and off throughout the year. Most recently, she had a bridesmaid’s dress to fit into and wanted to lose a couple of pounds real quick. 😉 And she did in just a couple short weeks! Another friend lost almost 30 pounds while he was doing it and another lost 12 without really following the diet. Soooooo, I put my hat into the ring and here we are on Day 4 and my mom is even thinking about joining me on it!

Day 1 was the easiest day for me. I know that sounds weird but I was super pumped and ready to do this thing. I guess the more excited by it I was, the easier it was. That’s not to say that it hasn’t been easy the past few days, but a little of the excitement has worn off! Sunday, I went to the grocery store and got all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Stephanie told me that it was mostly about eating organic, or clean eating, and staying away from sugars. She said that anything that had under 3 sugars in a serving was good to go! I can have a lot of fresh fruit, or canned fruit as long as there are no sugars added, lean proteins, and fresh veggies. I can also have complex carbs which is good for me because I love bread and potatoes. I just have to make sure I’m not eating too many of those and when I do eat bread or pasta, I need whole grain. So I went to the grocery and got a bunch of stuff and grilled some chicken for supper that night. I grilled extra chicken because I knew I would want some for lunch the next day. I thought that I would need to start bringing my lunch because it would be hard to eat out but I really can eat out and I just didn’t realize it. But more on that later… I got a big head of organic leafy greens, pickles, pickled baby corn, red onion, carrots, almonds, sunflower seeds, bell peppers, black olives, and a lot more. On Monday morning, I woke up and mixed my SPARK. I made my lunch while I drank it. Grilled chicken salad with pickles and baby corn, almonds, and carrots. Yummy! I put a little oil and vinegar dressing on the side and made a little cup with some grapes and strawberries. I also had some natural peanut butter and an apple for later that day if I got hungry. I’m supposed to stay away from hydrogenated oils and dairy products for the Cleanse phase. No alcohol either! After I made my lunch, I got together a little breakfast. I had to drink this fiber drink first and I was advised that the texture was horrible and to mix it with orange juice or orange flavored propel or vitamin water. I was also told to CHUG! This worked for me, the texture was awful, but by the time I drank all my SPARK and my fiber drink, I didn’t want breakfast. I knew I had to eat a little something though so I scrambled a couple eggs, with no butter, and grabbed an apple to eat as I got dressed for work. This is what I used for my eggs:

AdvoCare Eggs 🙂

2 eggs,

1 tsp. water,

1/2 tsp. dried minced onion,

1/2 tsp. chopped bell pepper,

Garlic Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

I just beat the eggs real quick in a bowl, covered it, and put it in the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. This was just because I was in a hurry and didn’t want to wash a skillet before work! You can do it in a skillet BUT use a tiny bit of olive oil instead of butter! You can also use coconut oil if you’d like!

That night, after work I made a quick chicken stir fry. Chicken stir fry has always been a huge staple in our house. My mom used to call it Chicken Wok Stuff! She pronounced it Wolk and we always picked on her for it. She gets so frustrated when we do that! 🙂 I thought I would have to change it drastically for it to be “clean” but I really didn’t have to change much! I used lite Soy Sauce, Organic veggies and chicken, and brown rice instead of the other stuff. It was really good and super easy!

Healthy Chicken “Wolk” Stuff:

1 large pkg. organic chicken tenderloins, boneless & skinless of course,

2 heads organic broccoli,

1 yellow onion,

1 pkg organic carrots,

1 can water chestnuts, check to make sure on the sugars, the can I used didn’t have any but depending on the brand they may have some due to the way they are packaged.

2 cups Uncle Ben’s brown rice,

2 eggs,

1 cup lite Soy Sauce or reduced sodium Soy Sauce, divided,

Garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper to taste.

Cut the chicken tenderloins into chunks and add them to a skillet with a little olive oil or coconut. Start cooking your rice according to package directions. I didn’t use butter though, I did splash in a little olive oil. Season your chicken lightly. Peel and cut your onion into the size of your choice. I like them a little bigger in this but you can do smaller pieces. Cut the broccoli and carrots up and add all the veggies into the chicken. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them into smaller pieces. Add that to the chicken mixture. Now pour half the soy sauce on top of that and let it all cook down for about 10 or 15 minutes. This varies based on how crunchy you want your veggies. As long as your chicken is done! Once the rice is done, scramble your eggs. Add the scrambled eggs to the rice and pour in the remaining soy sauce. Stir it up and serve! You can add more veggies to this, edemame or green beans would be good. You can also double the amount of carrots and broccoli if you want more veggies than chicken. Don’t eat too much rice though! It’s really easy for that rice to stick to the bottom of the pan so I do recommend adding something to help with that and using a really good non stick skillet. White rice doesn’t stick nearly as easily, especially when you use butter. But for my purposes, the brown rice tasted excellent. The boiler was tough to clean, which we all know I hate but I think using a little more oil will help next time.

That was Day 1 and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Day 2 was pretty easy as well. I had a office meeting to cook for and I scoured through recipes trying to find something that was AdvoCare friendly. Then, I realized that my normal recipe for grilled chicken marinade was already AdvoCare friendly! Not only that, but I had a few people ask me for it after! I’ve already posted it on here before but I will post it again! I used Organic, boneless, skinless, thinly sliced chicken breasts. They are difficult to find though so if you buy the regular boneless, skinless that’s fine too. It’s really a matter of preference!

Grilled Chicken Breasts:

4 boneless, skinless breasts,

1/2 cup Worcestershire,

1/2 cup Dale’s low sodium,

To taste: Tony Chachere’s, garlic salt, and McCormick Cowboy rub.

Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish, in a single layer. Pour Worcestershire and Dale’s over them. Using a fork, pick up each breast and allow the sauce to coat both sides. Now sprinkle the seasonings on and allow to marinate for around 20 minutes.

I ate that chicken for lunch on Monday, lunch on Tuesday, and supper on Tuesday night! It was delicious! And the best thing was, it was good for me! Yesterday was Day 3 and I got a little sick. I’ve always had a little trouble keeping my sugars steady. I’m not diabetic or hypoglycemic; but, sometimes my sugar bottoms out. I can’t drink anything with a lot of sugar. My coffee is sweetened with Splenda and my drinks are diet! On Wednesday, I wasn’t hungry when I woke up, especially after I drank my SPARK and fiber drink. I choked down a rice cake with peanut butter. Not that it was gross, just didn’t want food! I left home with the plan of going to see Bella, going to the bank, and meeting my sweet sister in law and nieces for lunch. When I left the house, I was nauseated and dizzy. I went about my errands and drank a cold water but it didn’t let up. At lunch, I got a half turkey sandwich on wheat bread and a side salad from Jason’s Deli (I <3 Jason’s Deli) and I felt much better. I had a p3 pack that afternoon and felt fine! I spoke with Health & Wellness Advisor, Emily, and she said I wasn’t eating enough! The crazy thing is, even though I wasn’t eating enough, I was full! So, I’ve added a snack in the afternoon and if I’m hungry at night, after supper, I’ll have a little fruit or some organic almonds! That afternoon, after eating my little p3 protein pack, I was able to walk my little fuzz butt about a mile and a half. Although he liked he, he didn’t like it. He thought it was too much activity for his little self. I guess he needs to get in shape too! This was 20 minutes after our walk 🙂 poor baby was worn out!

  

Last night I had another grilled chicken salad! I know… I need to add more variety to my diet. But honestly, that’s all I wanted! Today, Day 4, I had 100 calorie, organic, maple and brown sugar flavored oatmeal with a banana for breakfast. I found this on the same aisle as the regular oatmeal. I added a little Splenda but it tasted just like the regular stuff! You can add a few chopped pecans or almonds to this too and it would be awesome! For lunch, Stephanie and I had a grilled chicken go wrap with a side of chili from Wendy’s, and a couple pickles for my snack. Tonight I’m going to Applebee’s with a friend. Applebee’s has a great low calorie menu and if all else fails, I can get ANOTHER grilled chicken salad 🙂 Tomorrow will be Day 5 and the halfway mark for my Cleanse phase. Meaning, I will move on to the Max phase and be taking a couple of different vitamins and eating a little differently. Not much though… maybe I can have just ONE ice cold beer. It’s funny, I don’t drink much and when I do, I mostly drink beer. Before I started the Cleanse phase, I didn’t think much about having a beer. I would on occasion, if I was at a friends house or out to dinner. I can go weeks without even thinking about taking a sip of alcohol. But around this time yesterday, an ice cold Michelob Ultra started sounding REALLY good. And when I say ice cold, I mean with little ice chips floating in it… Okay….. next subject before I blow my whole cleanse phase on a single beer! 🙂

I’ve got a great menu planned for next week and Monday is my first weekly weigh in and measurement! I’m planning some baked or grilled Tilapia with roasted veggies, a filet with a sweet potato, baked Italian chicken, a recipe for salsa chicken that Stephanie gave me, and a AdvoCare friendly, Chicken Taco Soup. I’ll let ya’ll know how I do… finger’s crossed it’s good 🙂 Even if I don’t lose in pounds, maybe I’ll lose in inches. If not, that just means I’ll have to try harder next week! I’m really proud of myself to be honest with you. I guess I’m finally just motivated or maybe this is just the right plan for me. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I feel like I’m eating what I normally would eat, just with a little more attention to what ingredients I’m using! I’m not really craving anything… other than that beer. 🙂 But that’s a good thing because the downfall of all diets are impossible cravings! I hope this helps ya’ll! If any of you are doing AdvoCare and want to share your stories or any of your recipes I would love to have them… I love to hear success stories and know I’m not the only one going through this! And if any of you are thinking of signing up and want to know a little more about it, I’d be glad to help all I can! Ya’ll have a good night!

 

 

 

 

A Little Bit of Everything!

Hey ya’ll! Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted! I’ve been busy in the kitchen and I’ve gotta say I have some awesome recipes for ya’ll! But first, I’ve got some bad news and some good news! The good news is that I’ve decided to start the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge!! Whoo-Hoo!! I’m about to get into shape! The bad news is… I won’t be posting very many Hearty Southern Recipes! Ya’ll will be getting some healthy, low carb, low sugar recipes though! So… this is our last “unhealthy” blog for a while and for the next couple months, I’ll scatter in a few regular recipes but mostly, it’ll be healthy stuff. I’m thinking about doing this 24 Day Challenge in a journal format… day 1, day 2, etc… ya’ll let me know what you think! As for now, I’m telling ya’ll about my week leading up to the 24 Day Challenge. 🙂

My nephew, sweet little Judd, had to have this big metal spacer put in his mouth last Monday. It was painful and he had some problems eating. I wanted to make something soft to make sure he was able to eat so I made spaghetti and meatballs. This was a little flawed because he couldn’t eat the meatball. He had to cut it up into small pieces to eat it but it still hurt too bad so he had to eat some mashed potatoes. The next night, I wanted to make sure that he could eat without any problems so I made Loaded Potato Soup. MY FAVE! And his too! A couple nights later, he was finally feeling better so I did something special for him. I got all the stuff for us to make our own pizzas. Which would have been super fun, if they hadn’t gotten distracted and decided to play in a mud hole instead… but that’s a story for later! Right now, I’ll tell you about that pasta sauce.

I know I’ve given ya’ll umpteen jillion recipes for Spaghetti Sauce. You’re probably getting tired of it by now… but it was a goal to learn to make my own and I accomplished it so nah! 🙂 I canned mine so I used a whole box of canning tomatoes. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to. I’m going to give you the recipe for the canned version, but down at the bottom I’ll tell you how to do it without making 9 jars of sauce!

Spaghetti Sauce:

1 box of canning tomatoes,

4 green bell peppers,

2 large Vidalia onions,

1 head of garlic,

6 basil leaves,

3 tbsp. dried oregano,

1 tbsp. thyme,

1/2 cup salt,

1 tbsp. vinegar,

1 tbsp. black pepper,

2 tbsp. garlic salt,

1 tbsp. sugar,

1 16 oz. can tomato paste,

8-9 quart sized mason jars with a lid,

Large Stock pot.

Wash the tomatoes really good, making sure to get any dirt off of them, cut off any bad places in the tomatoes, anything that’s discolored or mushy. Put them in the pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil and allow them to boil for around 20 minutes. Until the skin is blistered and peeling off. Remove from heat and drain the water off. Let them cool while you put your mason jars in the dishwasher and turn them on. Peel and core each tomato, placing the rest of the tomato back in the stock pot or any large pot. Once all the tomatoes are peeled and cored, add 2 tbsp. salt and 1 tbsp. vinegar to the pot of tomatoes and bring it back to a boil for 15 minutes. While that’s boiling, get out a food processor.. You can use a knife, the food processor just gets everything really finely chopped and saves so much time!! Peel and crush the garlic, core the bell peppers, and peel the onions. Cut the onions and bell peppers into fours and add them to your food processor along with your garlic and basil. Once it’s nicely chopped, add the oregano and thyme. Push the pulse button once or twice to get it blended. Now, add that mixture to the tomatoes on the stove and add the tomato paste. This is the tricky part. I stirred all that together and got a new pot out. I then added the sauce to the food processor a cup at a time. This helped with the chunkiness that I had a problem with in my last sauce. If you have an EMULSION BLENDER, you can use that instead of putting the sauce into a food processor, I’m just not high tech enough yet 🙂 After I did that, I added the rest of the ingredients. Once it had boiled for about 30 minutes (stir occasionally), I put the lids of my mason jars on to boil. Once they had come to a rolling boil, I got out the following items:
2 large dishrags,

a small funnel,

a large ladle,

a pair of long tongs.

Lay one dishrag out, protecting your countertop and the jars from heat. Get your mason jars out of the dishwasher and make sure they’re dry. Fit the funnel over the first jar and start ladling the sauce into the jars. You’ll want to leave a little room in the jar so don’t fill it all the way. Fill the first jar, make sure the lip of the jar is clean and has no seeds on it, then pull one lid out of the still boiling water. Place the lid on the top and screw it closed. set it on the dishrag you laid out. Do the same with the rest of the sauce. Now, wait for the lids to “pop.” It could take a while. As the jars cool, the lids of the jars will seal, and the middle will pop down. DON’T TOUCH IT IF IT DOESN’T POP!! Just let it happen naturally. If for some reason, the lids don’t pop. You can reheat the jars and try again or put them in the fridge. They’ll last in the fridge for about a month. When you get ready to use the sauce, just warm it like you would any other jarred sauce.

If you don’t want to can the sauce and only want to make it for one night: just use about 5 tomatoes and do the same thing just don’t put it in the jars and you don’t have to use the vinegar. You can also just use canned tomatoes or tomato sauce and tomato paste. You would also only need one bell pepper, 1/2 of a large onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 basil leaf, and the other seasonings to taste! Mix it all together and allow that to simmer for about 30 minutes. The longer it simmers, the longer the flavors have to marry so you want it to have enough time to get all the flavor out!

Now, it’s up to ya’ll if you want to just make it a tomato sauce or add meat. I serve it over any kind of pasta. On this occasion, I used wheat pasta, so I mixed the sauce all together with the pasta to hide it from my nephews! Then, I topped it with homemade meatballs and some parmesan cheese. The meatballs were amazing, if I do say so myself. 😉 I used a mixture of different meat, which I will tell ya’ll all about now:

Meatballs:

1 lb. ground turkey,

1 lb. 90/20 lean ground beef,

1 lb. ground Italian sausage,

1 egg,

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce,

2 tsp. ground sage, or 3 fresh sage leaves,

2 basil leaves,

1 tsp. garlic salt,

1 tsp. ground black pepper.

Chop sage and basil leaves. If you’ve never chopped these, I’ll tell you the easiest way. Layer the leaves on top of one another and roll them up. Chop them into strips and the cut again into smaller pieces. After chopping, mix all the ingredients together. Then roll into balls and cook at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

       

You can use just turkey on this if you’d like but you’ll need to add something for fat, like sausage or a less lean ground turkey. I would use just ground turkey and ground Italian sausage if you didn’t want the beef! The Italian sausage gives it a little extra flavor and the fat content needed so that it’s not super dry! You can also do these in the crockpot, just make sure they’re covered in some kind of sauce; whether it’s beef broth, my previous recipe for Swedish meatballs, or the recipe I just gave you for Spaghetti sauce, it does need some moisture in there if you use that crockpot. Cook it low and slow for 8 hours and check up to make sure that liquid does not cook out!

Loaded Potato Soup has always been a favorite of mine. Mostly, I just love potatoes. And bacon. And anything with cream… but that’s why I’m doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge!! 🙂 Seriously though, this was the first time I made the recipe and I didn’t have one to go by. I just kind of winged it and it really turned out perfectly; however, it made me realize how fattening it was! But!! If you only have it every once in a while I think it’s okay!

Loaded Potato Soup:

8 small red potatoes,

1 stick butter,

1 pint heavy whipping cream,

8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened,

1 can Nestle Crema,

8 oz. sour cream,

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese,

1 medium yellow onion, chopped,

4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled.

Salt, black pepper, onion powder, crushed red pepper, and

I know… it’s lots of cream. Don’t judge me! 🙂 Wash the potatoes, peeling half of them. Place the potatoes in a large boiler and cover with water. Sprinkle some salt into the water and boil the potatoes on medium to high heat until fork tender. Drain the water off of the potatoes and smash them with a spoon or electric mixer. Add butter, whipping cream, cream cheese, crema, and sour cream. Stir well and bring to a boil. If it’s too thick to stir, add a little milk or water. Once boiling, add the onions and seasonings. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then add bacon and cheese and allow to simmer for 10 more minutes. The longer it simmers, uncovered, the thicker it will get. I like mine thicker. If you like it soupier, add water or milk, or just simmer with the lid on. This creates condensation and allows the soup to be a little thinner. If you do choose to keep a lid on it, just make sure you stir occasionally. This is enough for about 8 people.

Last year, tragedy struck our family when Judd and Jeffery’s dad passed away. It was very unexpected and it was very hard on us all. Especially on Judd and Jeffery. It’s hard to lose a parent at any age; but, when you’re only 9 and 7 years old, it’s harder because you don’t really understand why. A sweet friend and co-worker brought food over after the funeral. I’ll never forget the day,  we were all sitting down to eat after the funeral, and Stephanie knocks on the door. Judd and Jeffery were drained from all the emotion and stress of the morning and were just playing with their food. My mom got up to answer it and I was having a hard time with the death myself and didn’t even really pay attention to what was going on. She brought in a huge bag of stuff and we told her thank you and a little while later she left. Afterwards, I realized what she brought and my eyes welled with tears. It was all the stuff we needed to make pizzas and I knew the boys would enjoy it so much that it would take all that emotion off their shoulders and offer them some fun. We set out to work in the kitchen a little while later and the fun that they had was contagious! They couldn’t stop laughing and giggling and since they were, I was too! Their laughter filling our house was all that we needed to cheer up after such a hard time in our lives. Recently, Judd’s been asking when we were going to do that again so I went to the store and bought all the stuff. They told my niece, Hazie, and we all decided to make them together. BUUUTTTTTT, in true childhood fashion, they started digging in the dirt and playing with cars and bikes and scooters and decided they didn’t want to help cook! So, it was just me making the pizza!

The recipe is really flexible, you don’t even really need a recipe for it. You can buy everything store bought and just make it however you want. I bought Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, black olives, mozzarella cheese, and Monterey jack cheese. You can do feta cheese, kalmata olives, chicken, pesto, spinach, pretty much anything you want! I’m just going to give you the recipe for mine! I used a store bought crust because it takes a while when you use active dry yeast. You can also use crescent roll dough, biscuit dough, tortillas, pita bread, French bread, or even white bread!

Pizza Sauce:

14 oz. canned tomato sauce,

2 tsp. olive oil,

2 cloves garlic,

1 tsp. oregano,

1 tsp. garlic salt.

Peel and mince garlic. Heat olive oil in a boiler and add the garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes and add tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

While that’s simmering, shred your mozzarella cheese. I know that shredding cheese is frustrating and time consuming; but, honestly it’s cheaper to buy a block of cheese than it is to buy the bag. You can also take the time to brown any hamburger meat or Italian sausage. Once that’s done, spoon the sauce on the dough in a circular motion. Sprinkle cheese and add toppings! Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden brown. These are our pictures from last years pizza making party!! Please excuse the mess!!

    

 

 

I hope ya’ll enjoy these yummy recipes as much as I have! Today was Day 2 of my Advocare 24 Day Challenge and ya’ll can expect some yummy, healthy recipes before you know it! I’m already feeling awesome and can’t wait to see how the next 22 days go! I have so much more energy already and I wake up feeling better! I’m shocked at how awesome I feel after only 2 days! Not only that but I’m not starving myself! I’m eating healthy but it’s not gross food! I’m eating a lot of salads, grilled chicken, and fruit. Tomorrow night I’m making turkey burgers and green beans! I made a great chicken stir fry last night with fried brown rice! So ya’ll be on the lookout for those recipes and a few more! I’m really excited about this challenge and hope ya’ll enjoy the lighter side of Not So Gourmet! Don’t forget to go like and share my Not So Gourmet Facebook page!!

 

 

From My Family’s Heart to Your Family’s Table!


Hey ya’ll! Whew! What a week! It’s certainly been full of blessings! Growing up, my brother had one group of close friends. They were like brothers to me, always hanging around, spending days at a time at the house, riding bikes, then four wheelers and eventually trucks, playing video games, jumping on the trampoline, terrorizing me, while I annoyed them. Now, they’re all grown up and have families, jobs, and other obligations, It’s hard for them to all get together. I’ve grown up too and while I’ve made a group of my own friends, I’ve somehow entwined myself into my brothers group of friends as well. A close friend and old co worker of mine married a close friend of my brothers and they had two beautiful little baby boys. Their youngest was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma not too terribly long ago. He’s about a year and half old now and although he’s had a long hard road to recovery, he’s done with surgery and two long phases of chemo! He’s been such a trooper! And his family, The Millers, have been so awesome and so strong throughout this long journey! They have truly been in inspiration! Never once did I hear a negative thought come from them… They were so strong in their faith and just thanked God for his many blessings! And I’m so proud of their little Nugget for KICKING CANCERS BUTT!! Another close friend of my brothers works in industrial construction and had a terrible fall at work. He had a bad break in his leg that has required surgery and will require months of physical therapy. He’s got two little ones at home and they just sold their house and had to move out not long after he got out of the hospital. They’ve managed pretty well but I know it must be painful and miserable! That being said, in true southern fashion, I had to take them a casserole! 🙂 I don’t know why our immediate response to hospitalization, illness, disease, and death is “Oh, let’s take them a casserole!” But it is and I did and I’m not ashamed 🙂 I enjoy sharing my food with others and when certain tragedies have befallen our family, I know I appreciated not having to worry about supper. Chicken Spaghetti has been a staple in our household for years and it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I’m taking a meal to a friend! When I was a kid… I hated it! HATED IT!! I would CRY if my mom tried to get me to eat it! Same thing with spaghetti, which is hard to believe! All I would eat is buttered noodles with parmesan cheese when we had any kind of spaghetti for supper! I love both of them now, not only do I love it, I crave it! It’s one of my favorite meals to cook! I’ve already told you about my aversion to tomatoes, so don’t expect to see any nasty tomatoes near my delicious, cheesy, creamy chicken spaghetti. 🙂 This is how we do it (No, I didn’t mean to reference Montell Jordan).

Chicken Spaghetti:

4 chicken breasts,

1/2 stick butter,

1 pkg. spaghetti noodles,

1 cream of chicken soup,

1 cream of mushroom soup,

1 8oz cream cheese,

1 cup cheddar cheese, softened,

1 medium onion,

1 medium green bell pepper,

Garlic salt and Black Pepper to taste.

First, cover chicken breasts with water, add butter and a little salt. Allow this to boil for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. While the chicken is boiling, chop the onion and bell pepper and sauté them in a pan with a small amount of olive oil. I saute mine until they are translucent. You still get the flavor of the onion and the bell pepper, but it’s not quite as strong and there’s not a big crunch. This helps the kiddos eat it without complaining too much! Once the chicken is done, pull it out of the water. Don’t drain it! Get the chicken out of the water, use a slotted spoon to skim the “foam” off the top, and bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and cook them according to package directions. This gives the noodles tons of extra flavor! Chop the chicken up while the noodles are boiling and add the cream cheese, cream of chicken, and cream of mushroom soup. Season the chicken mixture judiciously and add the bell pepper and cheddar cheese. Drain the noodles and add them, small portions at a time to the chicken mixture. This makes it easier to stir. Once the chicken and noodles are mixed well, pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and sprinkle more cheese on top. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Now, I would normally post a delicious and cheesy looking picture here, but unfortunately my blog hosting site is still messed up! I’ve been emailing someone there but they haven’t answered yet! Soooo, you’ll have to look on my Facebook page for pictures of the deliciousness that is this Chicken Spaghetti!

One of our favorite suppers has always been breakfast! My mom has never been much of a morning person and she HATED making breakfast. So we usually had cereal, a pop tart, or leftovers for breakfast. Our real breakfast was mainly at supper time. My mom would make bacon, eggs, biscuits, tomato gravy, pancakes, homemade preserves, and so much more. Sometimes, I make it for us too; but, when I make it, I try to stick with what we have on hand. Sometimes, I use left over steak and make steak and eggs. Or left over baked potatoes and make skillet hash browns. My dad loves eggs and green beans of all things. My favorite meal in college was a fried egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich. I even mix it up sometimes with some chorizo and tortillas to make a make Breakfast Burritos. They sell chorizo at Kroger by the Jimmy Dean sausage now. In fact, Jimmy Dean has a chorizo option. If you’re not familiar with chorizo, it’s a slightly more greasy, spicy Mexican sausage. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for Breakfast!

The Best Scrambled Eggs Ever:

6 eggs,

1 tbsp. milk or water,

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded,

Tony Chachere’s, Garlic Salt, and Black Pepper.

Melt a couple teaspoons of butter into a skillet. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add 1 tbsp milk or water, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and seasoning and beat until all yolks are broken. Pour into the skillet and stir continuously until they’re all cooked, about 7 minutes.

Breakfast Chorizo Tacos:

6 eggs,

1 pkg. chorizo,

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded,

1 medium onion, chopped,

1 cup salsa,

4-6 flour or corn tortillas,

Tony Chachere’s, Garlic Salt, and Black Pepper to taste.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add 1 tbsp. water into the eggs. Add the tony’s, salt, black pepper, and cheese to the eggs and beat together. Start cooking the chorizo, once it’s cooked, drain some of the grease off, and add the beaten eggs to the sausage. This gives the eggs the flavor of the chorizo. You can do this separately and mix it later if you want but I’m lazy 🙂 After you add the eggs, add the onions, and allow them to cook. Warm the tortillas in a wet paper towel or rag. Once everything is cooked, spoon the egg and chorizo mixture into the tortilla and top with a little more cheese and some salsa. You can add chopped up bacon or regular sausage to this as well. When we’re hunting, on the last day, I get as many leftovers out of the fridge as I can to use for this. Last year, we were leaving our deer camp and we didn’t want to haul a lot of food home with us. We didn’t have the room or the cooler space. We had a package of chorizo, a package of Jimmy Dean sausage, and half a pack of bacon. We also had left over baked potatoes. I added it all to the eggs and we loaded up our soft corn tortillas with the delightful mixture. It was heavenly!

Pigs in a Blanket:

1 pkg. Conecuh smoked sausage,

1 pkg. large Crescent Rolls,

8 slices Kraft American Singles,

scrambled eggs, optional.

Cut the sausage into 8 pieces. Open the package of crescent rolls and unroll the dough. Put one piece of cheese, one piece of  sausage, and a teaspoon full of eggs (if you choose) on the large end of the crescent. Roll the sausage inwards. Repeat for the rest of the sausage. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. Just until the crescents are golden brown. These are great for supper or breakfast. Even for lunch. They’re also perfect for game day treats.

Grits:

2 cups water

6 tbs. grits,

1/2 stick butter,

Bacon bits,

Shredded Cheddar Cheese,

Salt and Black Pepper to taste.

Bring water to a boil, add salt, grits, and butter to the boiling water. Cover and reduce heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, add a little salt and pepper, cheese, and bacon bits to the grits. Mix together well and cover until you’re ready to serve!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins:

2 cups all purpose flour,

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder,

1/2 tsp. salt,

3 eggs,

1 cup milk,

2 cup brown sugar,

1 cup granulated sugar,

4 apples,

2 tsp. cinnamon,

1 cup chopped pecans,

2 sticks butter.

Mix flour, sat, and baking powder together and set aside. Cream one stick softened butter with 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, waiting for the first to be well incorporated before adding the others. Add 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Alternately add flour and milk until well incorporated. Peel and chop the apples. Gently fold the apples into the batter. Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Once the muffins are done. Melt the other stick of butter. Mix together the extra brown sugar and cinnamon and pour the melted butter over it. Spoon small amounts of the brown sugar icing over the muffins and allow to completely cool. These are absolutely delicious for desserts, breakfasts, or a delectable sweet side dish for breakfast for supper!

I really hate not sharing my awesome pictures with ya’ll in this post! But I hope ya’ll make them and enjoy them as much as we have! I have a really special “relationship” with all of these recipes. They bring back so many memories of my childhood and make me excited to teach them to my nieces and nephews and my future children. Speaking of which, I have a new NIECE on the way! And I couldn’t be happier… I can’t wait to spoil her with mani/pedi’s and movie and pizza dates!! Don’t forget to go like and share my Facebook page. And I’ll be posting pictures there since I can’t post them here on this darn website!! Ya’ll have a good night now ya’ hear? 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Suppers

Hey Ya’ll!! Please excuse me while I yawn! I’m exhausted! What a busy, busy week and weekend it has been! So busy that I don’t even really remember what I’ve done! Haha… no, my work has been really crazy, plus my dad has needed me to do some work for him, plus I’ve been trying to drum up new business, plus we’ve had open houses, tail gates, vet appointments, shopping to do… I’ve just been crazy! I plan to do things and my plans are shattered five minutes later. Ah, the life of a real estate agent! Speaking of which, today marks the end of my first year as a REALTOR! I’m no longer a rookie! I feel very accomplished! In the past year I haven’t sold the volume of properties I necessarily wanted to; however, I’m sort of an over achiever. 🙂 I see my mom and how much volume she does and it makes me feel like I should be doing more. I have to continuously remind myself that she’s been in this business for 17 years and I’ve been in it for just one. It’s difficult. This business is difficult in and of itself. I face challenges every day… being more outgoing, telling everyone that I’m doing real estate, reminding my friends that I’m not only flipping houses but also selling them, pushing people to either buy or sell or use me if they do both. It’s a constant challenge, a constant battle with being lazy and being aggressive. It’s also super expensive and time consuming. But, I don’t think I would change it for anything in the world. I really enjoy it. Much more than I thought I would. But a lot of that is because I have awesome co-workers! They’ve helped me out so much and helped me meet new clients and given me clients that they couldn’t help or couldn’t meet with, they’ve let me sit at their open houses and given me great advice. I sure am a lucky girl!

Sooooo, since I’ve been so busy, I decided to tell ya’ll about some “lazy suppers.” I have some pictures but I’m having issues uploading them here so, feel free to send me your pictures and I’ll update this post with more pictures when I can! First, I’m going to tell ya’ll about these amazing and easy chicken and sausage sandwiches. I’ll also give you a recipe for a taco/burrito bar without using taco seasoning. Then, a wonderful recipe for pasta salad and a childhood favorite for boiled cookies. I know ya’ll will love all these recipes for their taste; however, ya’ll will also love them because they are cheap, easy, and fast. I’m also going to include a couple of links for some recipe’s I’ve already posted that are super easy and simple, but I’ll go into those later!

These chicken and sausage sandwiches are so delicious and versatile. I used thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts and Country Pleasin’ Green Onion smoked sausage. You can use different regular chicken, organic, skin on, bone in. Whatever you want. I almost always use thinly sliced boneless skinless, simply because it’s cheaper. My nephew’s dad always used to us chicken quarters on the grill and they were absolutely fabulous, so every now and then I’ll do that; but, this is so easy. Also, I used this recipe for sandwiches; you don’t have to do that. It’s actually really good without the bread. Up to you!

Chicken and Sausage Sandwiches:

4 chicken breasts,

1 pkg. smoked sausage, sliced,

1/2 medium red onion,

1/2 medium red bell pepper,

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce,

1/4 cup Stubb’s chicken marinade,

Garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon pepper to taste,

French bread or Hoagie buns.

Place the chicken breasts in a casserole dish, pour the Worcestershire and Stubb’s over the chicken and sprinkle the garlic salt, cayenne, and lemon pepper over the chicken. Now slice up the sausage, onion, and red bell pepper and add that to the casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

When it’s done, take it out of the oven and slice up the chicken breasts. Place on the bread and top with your choice of cheese. I used pepper jack and swiss. I sprinkled a little left over feta on a few of the sandwiches too. Then I put them back in the oven and allowed the cheese to melt and the bread to toast. About 10 minutes. I made these last Wednesday and my nephews are still talking about them! They even ate some of the peppers and onions and that’s difficult for them so it was definitely a winner! Sometimes, after a day at work, the last thing you want is to come home and baby sit a big, elaborate supper and clean for hours. This can be made in a skillet too, I just felt like relaxing. So, I prepped everything, threw it in a dish, and baked it. You could also do this with bacon instead of sausage and no onions or peppers. You could even do pork chops too. Sometimes, a sandwich is the best thing for supper. Sometimes, we feel guilty and lazy for serving our families sandwiches instead of putting a little more effort into a meal. This way, you get the best of both worlds!

Tacos/Burritos are one of the easiest, simplest, and most hearty meals you can have. It’s super fast and pretty much everyone likes it. You can really do a lot with something tacos and burritos. I like using the seasoning packets but for some reason I always forget that I can make tacos, so I forget to buy them. It’s like one of the meals that always seems to slip my mind. I don’t know why, I just let it slip my mind. I like to set up a “bar” for my family. Judd and Jeffery just want meat and cheese, my mom and I want lettuce, I want black olives, mom wants salsa, daddy wants beans. Everyone wants something different. So, I put out little bowls of lettuce, cheese, salsa, black olives, green olives, sour cream, onions, and tomatoes. I just make the meat and heat up the tortillas. To heat up soft tortillas, wet a paper towel or rag, wrap the tortillas in the wet towel and microwave for about 30 seconds. Now, sometimes, we want hard shell tacos. If this is the case you can buy hard tortillas or you can buy soft tortillas and bake them. You can do that by draping them over the racks in your oven, turning a muffin pan over and draping them over the humps, or just putting weights in the tortillas to shape them. As I said earlier, I always forget to buy the seasoning packets; but, I always have a LOT of seasoning in my spice rack! I love different seasonings and spices and I love to experiment. We have a Mexican lady that cleans our house once a week, the inventor of Olga Noodles, that mixes together this great seasoning. It’s sort of like the red seasoning that you put on your chips at Mexican restaurants. As I’m talking about this I’m silently giggling because the reason I know that she makes this seasoning is because she made it for me after I stole the shaker from a Mexican restaurant. Any who, she mixed it up for me and I used it all so I had to mix up my own. It wasn’t the same as hers, but I still like it. This makes a lot so you’ll want to keep it in a little baggie and just use it as you go.

Taco Seasoning:

1 tbsp. chili powder,

1 tsp. onion powder,

1 tsp. garlic powder,

1 tsp. Cayenne pepper,

1 tsp. salt,

1 tsp. paprika,

1 tsp. black pepper,

1 tsp. ground cumin.

Hold your breath and slowly mix it, or just add everything to a sandwich bag, close it up, and shake it up. When you’re making the taco meat for your tacos, just cook the meat with a teaspoon of this seasoning. After it’s done, add another teaspoon of the seasoning and stir well. Taste to make sure you don’t want more and serve it up. You can also use this for chicken or ground turkey.

For burritos, just fill a large soft tortilla with the fillings of your choice. You can use anything from rice, beans, and taco meat, to chicken and rice. If you use beans, black beans are really good with it. You can even have your kids help out with this one. Have them fill their tortilla and you can just put it in a casserole dish and bake it. It’s really easy and simple and the kids would love it. Kind of like letting them make their own pizzas. It would be a lot of fun for them and it would give you time to do something else, like clean up a little or take a call or just relax. Now, when you get your filling inside the shell, fold in one side close to the filling, then fold the bottom and the top inward, holding that tightly, roll up and stick a toothpick in it. Line up all the burritos in a casserole dish, sprinkle a little cheese on top and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Pasta salad has always been a constant side dish in our household. Over the years the recipe has changed a little but it mostly stays to the same old thing. Not this year though. This year, Calah Hall had a stroke of genius. We always think, “what can we add to it to make it different?” and every time the answer is “Oh, I don’t know!” The other day, I was in the grocery store, craving pasta salad, and it hit me. I did a mad dash all the way back through the store gathering ingredients. I came home, made this beautiful, wonderful, delicious creation and put it in the refrigerator. The next day dawned bright and early and I ran out of the house like a chicken with my head cut off. Olga was here cleaning but I didn’t think much of it, I just left for work. I got back home kind of early that afternoon and went the fridge for a drink. There, I found a tragedy. I had placed the pasta front and center in the fridge for everyone to see and now it was nowhere to be found! I searched every nook and cranny, as if it had shrunk into the bottom of our crisper all on it’s on. I ran to our other refrigerator(yes, we have two refrigerators, I’ve already told you we have a billion people in our family we need two… heck we need three 🙂 hoping that she had just taken it and put it in a Tupperware container. But no, unfortunately, she had mistaken it for trash. It was gone and I wanted to cry. So, I got in my car and went back to the grocery store. This time, I came home and finished the pasta salad just in time for my mom to leave for Starkville. My mom, her friend Ms. Pam, and my sister ate about half the bowl. So I found myself in a dilemma. I was supposed to go over to a friends house with this pasta salad the next day. And that my friends is how I found myself making this pasta salad for the third time in as many days. Believe me, none of it went to waste. Well, except for the first bowl. I’m still so upset about that! It was so delicious… Ah well… no reason to cry over spilled milk. This is what ya’ll will need for the best pasta salad in the history of pasta salad!!

Pasta Salad:

1 pkg Multi Colored Rotini Pasta,
1 small purple onion,
1 can water chestnuts,
1 can black olives,
1 jar pickled baby corn,
1/2 cup, 7 or 8, Kalmata olives,
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese,
2 tsp. poppy seeds,
1/2 bottle or 8 oz. Kroger Brand Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing,
Garlic salt, salt, pepper.
Prepare the pasta according to package directions, I usually add a little olive oil and salt to the water so that the noodles will have a little flavor and they won’t stick to each other or the boiler. Chop onion, olives, corn, and water chestnuts. Drain the noodles and stir in the poppy seeds, garlic salt, and pepper. Taste the noodles and see if they need any more salt. I like mine salty 🙂 Now add the onion, olives, corn, and water chestnuts and stir. Now stir in the feta cheese and the dressing. You can use whatever dressing you want. I use the Kroger Olive Oil and Vinegar, it’s usually on sale for like 2 for $5 or 2 for $3. You can also use Italian dressing or any other kind of olive oil and vinegar dressing. Newk’s Greek dressing is really great for it too. You also don’t have to use Kalmata olives I just like to add a few because I love Kalmata’s. I also added a little dried, minced onion too but the taste didn’t change much so I left it off. Now, if you make it ahead, which I recommend doing because it’s best cold, you may want to add a little dressing before serving so it’s not too dry.
    Boiled cookies have always been a favorite in my family. They’re so delicious. I made them for one of my friends a couple years ago and he couldn’t believe it. He told me that his grandmother used to make those for him but he hadn’t had any since before she passed away. He said that his mother had never gotten the recipe because she didn’t cook much and he had missed these cookies so badly! It made me really happy that I could make him so happy. It really makes you realize the power of food. One little cookie that takes 10 minutes to make can bring back 34 year old memories with a single taste. Good memories, bad memories, sad memories, happy memories. Everything is remembered by this simple little cookie. It’s not just the one cookie but all food that has the power to do this. It makes me glad that I’ve chosen to write all these recipes down and share them with ya’ll. Hopefully, I can give ya’ll a new family favorite that you and your kids will cherish for years!
All you need are a few simple ingredients for these. They’re drop cookies and you don’t have to bake them. I know the name, boiled cookies, makes you think of something awful and gross. They really do deserve a better name. Like Chocolatey, Oatmealy, Goodness cookies… Hmmmm…. Anyway! My mom and mamaw made these all the time throughout my childhood. Now, we usually only make them for the holidays and here and there throughout the year. The bad thing about these cookies, is that you can’t eat just one. The good thing about them is, you probably wouldn’t have to try too hard to make them healthy. I’m not much of a health guru though so I’ll give you the full throttle version. 🙂
Boiled Cookies:
2 cups sugar,
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa,
1/2 cup milk,
1/2 stick butter,
1/2 cup peanut butter, (I like crunchy but you can use creamy),
1 tsp vanilla,
3 cups quick rolling oats.
Lay out a long piece of wax paper on a clean counter top. Mix first 4 ingredients together in a medium saucepan and allow it to come to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute. Not a second more!! Remove from heat and quickly add peanut butter, vanilla, and oats. Stir just enough to blend all the ingredients together and using a teaspoon or a tablespoon, drop the cookies one by one onto the wax paper. Let set about 10 minutes. It’s very important to measure all of this out and go by the directions. These cookies, while easy, are very finicky. If you don’t do something right, they’ll be super dry or too runny. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. They’re awesomely delicious!
I did a few other blog posts a while back with some things that ya’ll may have missed. One was titled Angelo’s Eatery, Philly Cheesesteaks, and Pimento and Cheese. Normally I would include a link to this but I’m having some serious issues with my blog site for some reason. This is also the reason I haven’t included any pictures in this blog. I’m hoping I can have it back up and running in no time 🙂 The other is the Chicken Salad and Crunchy Romaine Salad that I posted recently. Ya’ll go back and check out those blogs and you will have yourself an arsenal of quick, easy, lazy suppers! Hope you enjoy them 🙂 Be on the lookout for my next blog on Chicken Spaghetti coming up Sunday night or Monday morning!!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Hey Mike… What day is it?!? It’s GAME DAYYYYY!!

Hey ya’ll! It’s August 27th and only a few short days until the first game of the season! For some of you it’s only one day and I couldn’t be more excited. There are so many reasons that I’m excited about this. First, I love football. I’m not a total crazy football fan girl; I don’t know all the rules and I don’t know what is going on sometimes but I love to watch it. Second, the start of football season is the start of Fall for me and I absolutely love Fall!! I’ve always been hot natured, so the cooler weather is my friend. I love the cold! Not only that but it means that deer season, the fair, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are heading this way. Plus, there’s something about the way Fall FEELS! It’s a feeling in the air, the smell of the leaves, the cool breezes, the Pumpkin Spice latte’s and cinnamon-y desserts. I love the clothes and the food. And football is just the beginning of all of these wonderful things! And of course, the main reason I love football season so much, my papaw suffered from dementia in the last few years of his life and he absolutely loved football. He couldn’t remember a lot of things, some days he couldn’t tell us what he had eaten for lunch five minutes ago, but he could tell us every football game that was coming on, who the players were, and what channel it was on. That man started talking about football in March and wouldn’t stop until the next February. Every day he would start with “well, football is gonna be starting soon.” This time of year, always makes me miss him. And while that’s bittersweet, every football game I watch, I feel like he’s sitting there watching it with me. So, I’m dedicating this post to him! I’m giving ya’ll a few of our favorite game day treats!!

But first, I want ya’ll to go outside, look at the sky and see what a beautiful day it is!! I was driving along today and stopped at a light. I looked at the sky ahead of me and couldn’t help but notice how beautiful it was. The clouds looked painted into the sky and the sky itself was a beautiful cerulean blue. It made me think… “I should just thank God for waking up this morning and experiencing the beauty that is this sky!” So go! Check out that gorgeousness… and for those of you reading this later on. Sorry ya missed it in person but here it is in picture form! The clouds even look like they’re smiling at me!

clouds      photo

So beautiful! Anyway! Now that we’ve looked at the sky and appreciated it’s beauty, lets talk about the real reason we’re here! FOOOOODDDD!! So, game day food is very important for many reasons. You don’t want anything that you have to babysit because you want to be able to watch the game. So it’s something that you can do ahead of time and lay out for whoever is watching with you. Also, you don’t want much of anything that needs a knife or fork. Mainly, you want something that you can pick up and eat with your hands. So, you want burgers, sandwiches, wings, sausage, brisket, bone in chicken, potato skins, brownies, cookies… that kinda thing. Since it’s the first game of the season, I thought I would treat ya’ll to a couple recipes for boneless wings. The best homemade boneless wings you’ll ever eat. I’m giving you one recipe for Honey Garlic and one for Mild-Hot. You can control the level of heat in the Mild-Hot and I’ll tell you how after the recipe.

I fried my own chicken, mainly because I’m picky and don’t really like frozen chicken tenders. You can get the nuggets and they’re a little more tender and juicy; but, with the tenders themselves, they’re usually too thin and you can taste the frozen on them! So, I got three packs of chicken tenders. There’s a reason I got so many. My nephew Judd has discovered wings this summer. He also discovered that besides steak, wings are his favorite food. By this, I mean he discovered he could eat one order of 16 wings from Wing Stop, plus some of his brothers, plus some of his moms, plus an order of fries! Can you say growing boy?!?! So, when I set off to make these, I just knew that we wouldn’t have enough because I knew he would out eat us all and want them for lunch today. Now, Judd’s brother Jeffery, is super picky. It’s hard to get him to eat anything and he changes his mind about what he does and does not like every couple days. The only thing he always loves is a hot dog with red wienies, spam sandwiches, and mustard. The kid is a special kind of weird. 🙂 I tell him that all the time and he thinks it’s hilarious; I think it’s true. 😉 Anyway, back to my original point Jeffery is finicky. Sometimes when he eats wings, he likes honey barbeque. I love garlic and my mom HATES hot, hot wings. So I made a honey garlic sauce for some of the wings. I dipped a third of the wings in honey garlic sauce, a third in hot sauce, and left the other third “naked”. Judd also likes to DROWN his wings in ranch. I have a recipe for Homemade Ranch that I haven’t used yet. I figured this wasn’t the meal to start with because as much as I love the kid, Judd is finicky about his ranch. He won’t eat bottled and he doesn’t like some Homemade. He LOVES the kind made with Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packets. What he doesn’t know, is that I don’t go by the directions on the back. Always make this first, so it can be chilling in the fridge while everything else is getting ready.

Ranch Dressing:

2 packets Hidden Valley, Ranch dressing and seasoning mix,

2 cups BUTTERMILK,

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise,

1/2 tsp. dill weed,

1/2 tsp. garlic powder.

Mix the mayo and the buttermilk together with a whisk until all the lumps are out. Add the dressing packet, dill weed, and garlic powder. Mix well and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Fried Chicken Tenders:

I’m cutting my recipe in half for ya’lls benefit so ya’ll can double it if you like.

1 big pack boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, (12 tenders in a pack)

1 cup buttermilk,

1/2 lime,

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour,

2 tsp. each lemon pepper, black pepper, salt, and garlic.

Place the tenders in a shallow dish. Pour buttermilk over the tenders and squeeze the lime over it, now put half the seasoning over it. Allow that to sit for about 20 minutes. During this time you can prepare the flour. Put everything in another shallow dish and mix well. You want the flour to be well seasoned. So you can add more seasonings to this flour mixture if you think it needs it. Once the 20 minutes are up, dip one tender at a time into the flour. Make sure it’s fully coated, like this:

breaded chicken

When all of the tenders are coated, you need to get your oil ready. I used a Fry Pappy, the Fry Daddy’s Daddy 🙂 but if you don’t have one of those, you can use my instructions for frying minute steaks and frying pork chops. You can find those instructions by clicking on the name of the item. Just about 3/4 of an inch of oil in the bottom of the pan. Allow it to get super duper hot and placing the tenders in one by one. Don’t allow it to get too crowded! These take about 7-10 minutes to cook thoroughly. Lay them on a pan with a paper towel to drain. I’m a great multi-tasker and the Fry Pappy is pretty easy to work with so I started on the sauces while the chicken was frying.

Mild Wing Sauce:

1 stick butter,

1/2 cup Frank’s Original hot sauce,

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce,

2 tsp sugar,

Crushed red pepper, black pepper, and garlic salt to taste.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Allow it to melt completely before adding the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and allow it to come to a boil. Let it boil for two minutes, then turn it on simmer until you’re ready for the wings to be dipped in it. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.

*** Make this hotter by adding a little more of the sauce and more red pepper.***

Honey-Garlic Sauce:

1 stick butter,

1 tsp. minced garlic, (you can use fresh garlic; I accidentally forgot the garlic at the store, so I used the dried variety),

1/2 cup soy sauce, (I used low sodium, but you don’t have to),

1 1/2 cup honey,

1/2 cup sugar,

Black pepper, Garlic Powder, and a pinch of Red Pepper to set it off.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Once melted, add the rest of the ingredients. Allow it to come to a boil and boil for two minutes. After the boil, turn the heat down low, and let it simmer until you’re ready to use it.

Back to the chicken. Once it’s done, it’ll look something like this:

original wings

Line a pan with aluminum foil. Take a fork and dip each tender into the sauce of your choice. If one side is a little naked, it’s ok, just turn the tender on the opposite side and let the sauce drip down onto the naked side. You don’t want to put too much sauce on the tenders so don’t allow them to be completely submerged in the sauce. If you do, allow the sauce to drip off a little.

hot wings honey garlic wings

I served these with some lovely Olga Noodles and Ranch Dressing. I was going to do fries but I figured that it would be too much fried food! I figured I would be tired of frying! Which I was… and the Olga Noodles go GREAT with these wings! The next recipe I’m sharing with ya’ll is another classic Game Day food…. Sausage Bread! It’s easy to just cut off a slice and go to the TV or go to the game. It goes great with pretty much any side and it’s super easy to make!

The story behind this Sausage Bread is kind of a funny one. I was over at my friend Katrina’s house, it was the week before I left home for the start of the semester at State, I had just turned 21 and we were coming home from a night out. It was fairly early for us, back in those days, midnight was pretty early for us. Now, that’s late and we’re all in bed by 11! Anyway, we got back to Katrina’s and our designated driver was not going to drive us another foot. We were all hungry and wanted to play cards so Katrina pulled out some bread, sausage, and cream cheese. She started making this sausage mixture and I was mesmerized! I didn’t know what she was making but I knew I wanted a bite! I got the recipe, added a little bit to it, and my sister and my dad’s favorite bread was born! So… thank you Katrina for introducing me to this AWESOME recipe!! I hope I do it justice!

Sausage Bread:

1 pkg. Jimmy Dean ground sausage (I use Sage),

1 8 oz. cream cheese,

1/2 green bell pepper,

1/2 medium onion,

2 cups cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded,

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper,

1 loaf Italian Bread.

Cook the sausage, onion, and bell pepper in a skillet. Once the sausage is completely cooked, add the cream cheese. Once the cream cheese is melted, add the cheddar or pepper jack. I used both and it was awesome!

sausage mixture 2

Season the meat and cheese mixture to your liking and set aside. Cut a hole in the bread loaf and scrape out some of the bread in the middle. Pour the meat mixture in the bottom of the loaf of bread and top it with the top of the loaf. Put it in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. It will be messy and you will have to wrap it in a paper towel or aluminum foil to serve if you’re not using a plate. Cut into strips and serve.

ground sausage mixture sausage bread

Now! The easiest dessert cookie/bar thingamajig ever!! My mom won her annual Christmas cookie swap with these. We’ve made them a hundred times over my lifetime. Probably more, because we can never make just one batch. They’re delicious, easy, and best of all they’re cheap! All you need is this:

Toffee Bars:

1 stick butter,

1 stick margarine,

1 cup sugar,

1 cup pecans (I always use a little more but it’s up to you), finely chopped

1/2 box graham crackers.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Break graham crackers in half and place them close together on the pan, not touching. Melt butter and margarine in a saucepan and add sugar. Bring to a boil, add pecans, and allow it to boil for two minutes. Not a second more!! It’ll get too hard if you allow it to boil for more. Once it’s boiled for two minutes, pour over the graham crackers and spread evenly.

Toffee Bars

Bake in a 225 degree oven for 20 minutes. Get them out, let them cool, and try to keep everyone out of them. Go ahead and try… P.S. you may want to invest in some heavy duty football gear to keep all those folks away from them… 🙂

toffee bars cooked

Like I said, we can never make just one batch so I would go ahead and double this recipe. It’s just easier that way! Now, I’ve tried this with brown sugar and it’s really tasty, but it was a little stickier than normal. You can also do walnuts or almonds or any other kind of nut. They really are delicious and super easy! I hope ya’ll love them as much as we do! They may not be very pretty, but they won’t last long enough for it to matter!

I think that’s it for tonight ya’ll! I’m going to grill some chicken and have a nice relaxing, HEALTHY meal for once! I need a break from all this rich food I’m telling ya’ll about! Pretty soon I’m gonna have to give ya’ll some healthy recipes, so that may be coming in the next couple of weeks! Ya’ll have a good night and I sure hope to hear that some of ya’ll made a couple of these recipes for your next game day party!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Chicken Salad, Crunchy Romaine Salad, and Apple Bread

Hey ya’ll! I’ve been at the beach for a nice relaxing vacation this week with my mom and my puppies! I’ve had so much fun and I wish I could stay forever but, unfortunately, we have to go back to reality soon! When me and mama go to the beach, we eat out a lot! We usually have lunch on the beach and come back in around 4:30 or 5:00 to shower and get dressed and go somewhere for supper. Normally, we just have ham or turkey sandwiches. This time, I thought I would do something special so I made Chicken Salad. Pretty much everyone from the South has some kind of chicken salad recipe somewhere. There are a lot of things that constitute as a chicken salad. You can add black beans, corn, and avocado and have a Tex-Mex chicken salad; ginger and sesame seeds and have an Asian chicken salad; you can add broccoli, dill pickles, sweet pickles, pickle relish, peppers, walnuts, pecans, cashews, whatever. Chicken Salad is a very versatile recipe, you can do pretty much anything with it; however, ours is more traditional. Growing up, we had chicken salad a lot but I would never, ever, ever, ever eat it. Something about the way it looked, the thought of grapes in a savory dish, and celery made my skin crawl. But now, I’ve come to really like it, I guess once you live here for long enough you have to eat it or starve! 🙂 Every restaurant makes it, every bridal shower and baby shower has sandwiches made out of it, and every family reunion has globs of it. It’s everywhere!! I’m also going to give you the recipe for Crunchy Romaine Salad. This is a recipe my mom’s best friend gave us and I’m adopting it as my own because it’s so darn delicious that I’m jealous that it isn’t my own! It’s become a favorite in my house but I’ll tell you a little more about that later! And last but certainly not least, I’m going to give ya’ll the recipe for something called Apple Fritter Bread. This is a brand new recipe that I’ve adopted, rearranged, and made my own. My family absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to have some more of it myself!

When I decided that I wanted to make Chicken Salad, I began searching for a perfect recipe. We have a couple in different cookbooks, but I’d never made them before and I didn’t want to make it and waste it because it wasn’t any good. I was looking for something traditional, but easy and delicious. My mom reminded me that my Aunt Linda had an awesome recipe for Chicken Salad that everyone always loves! My Aunt Linda is my dad’s, mom’s sister. So she’s my great aunt. I remember going over to her house when I was a kid. Her and my Uncle Jerrell had huge Emu’s and when we went over there my dad always came home with something called Emu Oil. My Uncle would always give it to him, it smells kind of like banana’s and in my family, we swear it’s the miracle cure to pretty much anything. It’s right up there with lye soap! I loved going to see the birds, my dad loved getting the Emu Oil, and my mom? She loved the chicken salad! So I called Aunt Linda and got her recipe! We spoke about the recipe and she mentioned that it was all in her head and that she didn’t even have a copy of it written down anywhere. It made me think. We really don’t have a lot of this stuff written down. The way my mamaw and Aunt Linda and even I were raised, we didn’t write down our recipes. Our parents taught them to us and we added and took away from them. Our friends told us the recipe and we wrote them down, but we lost them or filed them in places that we don’t remember and it didn’t matter because we had made it so much that we had it memorized. So that is my next goal. I’m going to type up all of my mamaw’s favorite recipes, all of my favorite recipes, my mom’s and my friends and I’m going to bind them. I started a few years ago and gave them away for Christmas gifts to my family members. I think it’s really important for them to be passed down to our kids and our kids, kids. It keeps our family memories and traditions alive!

Anyway, back to the chicken salad! As we were talking Aunt Linda also mentioned that she usually uses her homemade pickles in the Chicken Salad; but that no one has time to make them anymore. I wasn’t thinking and said, “Oh, what a coincidence! I just learned to make my own pickles.” Of course, she meant sweet pickles and I made dill pickles; but, I wasn’t thinking, I was just excited that I was going to get to use my pickles. I was so excited that I made them and that they turned out well. Of course, I should have realized it because my mom told me she didn’t have a recipe for dill pickles and that she only had one for sweet; but excitement got the best of me. Oh well, I made this chicken salad with my homemade dills, which I will be giving ya’ll the recipe for later this week. But, my mom, while she liked the chicken salad, said that it would have been better with sweet pickles. It’s all up to ya’ll though. Since I’m at this condo and we have limited resources, I bought a rotisserie chicken instead of boiling my own. Two things, I thought it was pretty good but could have been better. My mom hates dark meat, so I didn’t use as much as I could have. Second, you can use any kind of chicken. My Aunt even uses the canned chicken when she makes it. She said that she eats it for lunch every day and it’s just easier and cheaper to use the canned. But, you can use the rotisserie chicken, boil your own, or use canned. You can also use turkey! If you do use the rotisserie, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Don’t use the skin, make sure you scrape it good and don’t get any fat in there. Also, make sure you don’t let any bones slide past you. As I said, my mom hates dark meat so don’t use the thigh or the leg if you don’t like dark meat. There’s nothing wrong with dark meat, it has more flavor and tends to be more moist. This is why my mom doesn’t like it. She is the only person I know that HATES moist chicken! She wants it dry and BURNT! Crazy lady! 🙂

Aunt Linda’s Chicken Salad:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

1 1/2 cups seedless, purple grapes,

1/2 medium Vidalia onion,

1 cup chopped pecans,

6 dill pickle spears OR sweet (Bread and Butter) pickles spears OR 3 tbsp. sweet or dill pickle relish,

1 cup good quality mayonnaise ( I use Blue Plate),

1 cup celery, chopped,

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

Whatever chicken you decide to use, cook it and then shred or chop it. It’s up to you how you do it. I chopped it because I have carpal tunnel and there was no way my wrist was going to let me shred it; however, I like it better shredded a little. Chop your onion, pecans, pickles (if you use spears), celery, and grapes. This is where I changed things up a bit. My mom hates celery as well (the woman is picky!). So I omitted the celery. I also had some green onion that I really needed to use so I threw some of that in there as well. I didn’t chop up the grapes finely, I washed them and sliced them in half. It took a minute but it was worth it! Same as the pecans, don’t do a fine chop on them, just rough them up! Once everything is chopped and/or shredded, add it to a large mixing bowl.

chicken salad 1 chicken salad 2 chopped pickles

Mix it all well enough so that everything is nicely incorporated and you can easily get a bite of everything when you fork it up. It doesn’t take long! Then allow it to chill in the fridge for about an hour or so. I like this on a nice sandwich with creole mustard and Swiss or Pepper Jack cheese. It’s also really good on Ritz crackers.

chicken salad

Forgive me Aunt Linda, I do have a couple of ways that I would like to try it. This is absolutely delicious and ya’ll don’t have to do any of this to make it better! However, in my normal fashion, I always have to change things up. I think mixing half a cup of softened cream cheese with half a cup of mayo would be really good. I would also like to add a little creole mustard, I really love the twang of creole mustard with this. I also like the idea of adding a little shredded pepper jack cheese! These are all things I will try at some point! Thank you so much Aunt Linda for giving me this amazing recipe! I’m so glad, not only to have it, but also because it feels like a piece of family history that I can pass on! \

Now, one of the best salad’s in the whole wide world is coming your way! Get ready for it because you’ll be eating it every chance you get from now till the end of time! It’s fantastic and I’m so excited to tell ya’ll about it. My mom’s best friend Pam Howard gave me this recipe and I don’t know where she got it but it’s a hot commodity in my house! In fact, I’ll tell ya’ll a little story about it! One of my really good friends hates broccoli. He can’t stand it. He’s a grown man, but acts like a kid when you put broccoli in front of him. Literally, he will start gagging like my 8 year old nephew does when I ask him to eat the brown wienies instead of the red. It’s ridiculous. The man is a child when it comes to broccoli. So, I go over to his house a couple of weeks ago and I’m making dinner. I have the salad and dressing already made and I made his plate so he wouldn’t see the broccoli. I know, I’m acting like his mom, but I’m determined to make this man child eat his broccoli. It’s healthy and delicious, he’s 34 year’s old, he should be able to eat broccoli without gagging! I wait until he’s devoured, I mean DEVOURED this salad, ok? I ask him, “Ya liked that huh?” He says, “Yea, even the broccoli was good. I’d eat poop if it was covered in that dressing!” 🙂 So here’s how you do it! And some of the ingredients are a little odd but just do what I say! 😉

Crunchy Romaine Toss:

1 head Romaine lettuce,

1 cup walnuts,

1 pkg. Ramen Noodles,

4 tbsp. butter,

1 bunch broccoli,

4 green onions,

White Wine Vinegarette (recipe below.)

Wash, dry, and chop the romaine lettuce. Chop walnuts, broccoli, and onions.

romaine    green onions

Break up the Ramen noodles and take out the season pack. Place the 4 tbsp. butter in a skillet and allow it to melt. Then add the walnuts and Ramen noodles. Sprinkle a little salt and allow them to brown. It won’t take long and you’ll need to stir it up a bit to keep the ones on the bottom from burning. You just want the noodles to turn a nice golden brown; this is to make them taste crunchy, salty, and buttery instead of like an uncooked hard noodle. You’ll see… I promise!

browned walnuts

The one’s in the picture above, are not all the way done, they needed a couple more minutes. Once they are done though, allow them to cool. You don’t have to drain the butter off but you can. There’s not much to though and it doesn’t make the lettuce greasy. You do want it to cool because if it’s hot and you put it in with the lettuce, the lettuce will wilt. I chop my broccoli very finely, taking the florets, and chopping the stems off of that. Now add the romaine, the broccoli, the green onions, the walnuts, and the Ramen noodles to a bowl. Toss the salad and set it aside.

crunchy romain salad

White Wine Vinegarette:

1 cup vegetable or canola oil,

1 cup sugar,

1/2 cup white wine vinegar,

2 tbsp. soy sauce,

Salt and pepper to taste.

This is easy as pie, you just mix it all together! It looks something like this:

White Wine Vinegarrette

Now this is after it’s separated. The sugar, salt, and pepper goes to the bottom, the vinegar and soy sauce go to the middle, the oil is on the top. Mix it before pouring. The original recipe calls for you to pour it over the salad and toss it; however, I don’t like to do that because some people like more dressing than others. So I keep it in a little jug with a top and let them pour it over their own salads. They will devour it!!

This next recipe is very new to me but I’ve fallen in love with it. Recently, I was craving something with apples and cinnamon, but I didn’t want Apple Pie. I couldn’t figure out what I was craving. I just knew I wanted it to have a cream cheese type frosting and pecans. Little did I  know, I was craving this bread that I had yet to taste! I set out on my trusty Pinterest account to find something to satisfy this craving. I typed “Apple Desserts” into the search engine and sat back to look through the thousands of recipes that popped up. I never thought I would find what I wanted, figuring I would end up  making something up. When I came across Country Apple Fritter Bread I knew I had found THE ONE! 😉 Again, true to form, I wanted to make it my own. I didn’t have a bread pan; however, I had my mamaw’s handy dandy bundt cake pan. The only problem with that was that I was worried that the recipe wouldn’t make enough to fill the pan properly. So I decided to double it. This was my mistake. I should have maybe added a little to it, but definitely not doubled it. Also, I think I’m going to buy a bread pan for the next time I make it. The original recipe for the icing also didn’t call for cream cheese and I didn’t add it; but, I will next time. Here’s the original recipe, I will stick by doubling the brown sugar in it though. It needed a little sweetness. I also added pecans, this is optional. If you don’t like nuts or if you’re allergic, it’s ok not to add them.

Country Fritter Apple Bread:

2/3 cup + 2 tsp. brown sugar (separated) (original recipe only calls for 1/3 cup but, the brown sugar adds a little sweetness and depth that you’ll like),

2 tsp. ground cinnamon, (separated)

2/3 cup + 3 tsp. granulated sugar, (separated)

1/2 cup butter softened,

3 eggs,

2 tsp. vanilla extract,

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour,

2 tsp. baking powder,

1/2 cup milk,

4 apples, peeled and chopped, leaving the core out.

1 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar,

3/4 cup milk,

1 block softened cream cheese.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get your pan ready. For me, I melted some butter into the bottom of the pan, sprinkled in brown sugar, granulated sugar, and a few pecans (the batter was poured over this later.) Just make sure the butter or spray covers the pan at least half way up. Now, mix 2/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon together and set it aside. Mix apples, 3 tsp. granulated sugar, 2 tsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon together and set that aside as well. In another bowl, beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and butter together until smooth. I use an electric mixer for this, but you can do it by hand. The electric mixer just seems to mix it better. This is where it gets harder to do it by hand. Add in the eggs, one at a time, only adding the next one after the first one is fully incorporated. Add in vanilla.

apple bread batter

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add it slowly, into the egg, sugar, and butter mixture. Once that is fully incorporated, add milk until the batter is smooth and thick.

apple bread batter 2

Now, fold in half the pecans. Pour half the batter into your greased pan. Add half the apple mixture and half the brown sugar mixture to the batter.

apple bread pan 2

Lightly pat the apples and brown sugar into the batter. Add the rest of the batter and top it off with the apples and brown sugar mixture.

apple bread

Pat into the batter lightly and swirl the mixture into the batter using a knife  or spoon. Bake until toothpick comes out clean. About 50-60 minutes. As you can see, mine was pretty full. But I did double it, so yours wont be this full!

apple bread 1 apple bread 2

Now, it’s time to make the glaze. It’s super easy. Whip the cream cheese with an electric mixer, add the confectioners sugar. This could get messy so you want to go slow at first and once most of the sugar is incorporated into the cream cheese, speed it up. Now add the milk and maybe a touch of vanilla. Then pour the mixture over the cooled cake. Mine looked like this:

apple bread cooked

Over time, I spooned the icing that gathered in the middle over the outside to and allowed it to coat the top of the cake. It’s not very pretty at all; however, I think it would have been prettier had I let the bread cool a little longer and used the cream cheese. It was delicious and disappeared like hot cakes! Speaking of hot cakes, this is a great dessert but it also works really well for a breakfast! My nephew ate it for breakfast a few times. Now, I gotta say…. me and my oldest nephew, have a special bond. I love all my nieces and nephews the same. I have special things that I do with all of them. Different kids have different things in common with me. My niece Hazie, loves to go get our nails done. My nephew Jeffery, loves to watch cartoons with me. My niece Addie, loves to read with me. But me and Judd? He loves to cook with me, but most of all… He loves, loves, LOVES to drink coffee with me! I know what you’re thinking… he’s 10!! Don’t worry, it’s decaf and mostly milk and sugar! I like to take him to what used to be Seattle Drip but is now Mocha Mugs and getting him a decaf frappe.

me and my boys getting coffee

But that doesn’t stop me from having a cup of “coffee” and a slice of this Apple Bread with my sweet little dude! He said it was his favorite breakfast ever!

I can’t wait for ya’ll to try these out! I also can’t wait to share my fabulous new recipe with ya’ll in the couple of weeks! It’s something I’m sure I’ve told ya’ll about a time or two. I PERFECTED MY SPAGHETTI SAUUUUUUCCCEEEE!!! Whoo-Hoo!! Can’t wait for ya’ll to read it and let me know what you think! In the mean time, I’m making myself a Chicken Salad Sandwich with a side of homemade dill pickle and going to the beach to enjoy this beautiful day!! Ya’ll have a good one!!

beach day

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