recipes

Friday brought the first football game of the season. The high temperature was 104, the game was an hour and a half away, and the bus didn't have air conditioning. Cue my annual football-season-sinus-infection. With all the dust, bugs, bug spray, and exhaustion, my yearly junk returned much earlier than usual, but at least I have an extra day to recover. 

This one's particularly icky. Luckily, the sinus part isn't as bad as I'm used to, I just have a scratchy throat and stuffy nose. The worst part is that I feel super weak and tired all over. I've slept a LOT this weekend. Hopefully, I'll kick the majority of it by Tuesday, or I'll have it forever. 

So I feel poopy. Really poopy. What do I do to make myself feel better? This. I do this.

Mug brownies are like my main food group, so I wanted to try this one because it has peanut butter. 

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I didn't use any chocolate chips or any of the toppings because my pantry is a little on the empty side. Oh well. Overall, it was really pretty good, but *gasp* maybe a bit too chocolatey for me.

I did manage to make it to Walmart earlier for a teensy bit of couponing. I paid about .50 for two packs of colored pens, took $1 off some color catchers and stain spray, made .02 on whatever "BN Toddler" is, got free frozen peppers/onions, and price matched pork loin from $3.98 to $2.19, cantaloupe from $1.78 to .79, milk from $3.3something to $1.99, and Dunkin Donuts coffee from $7.5something to $5.99.Image

And now I'm worn out again so back to bed. Ugh. And in case you were wondering, the title is my sinus-drug-induced-rendition of a radio commercial from our area. "You can put your boots in the oven, but it doesn't make them biscuits." And I was absolutely certain I was correct. 

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30
Aug
2013

Poppin' Tags and Chicken Pizzadilla

Posted by Nicole

I don't have any jean capris. This is a problem because I have to go to a football game tomorrow and the high temperature is about 103 degrees. My typical uniform is jeans and a staff polo, but full-length hot denim jeans just won't cut it. So what does any crafty girl do? 

I went to Goodwill (wut-wut-wut-wut) and lucked into finding some pretty nice Old Navy jeans in my size. Now, most people get all weird about buying used thrift shop clothes. But honestly, when you think about it, I know LOTS of people who donate perfectly good clothes to Goodwill. They just don't like the style, they don't fit, or they aren't needed anymore. That means not all thrift clothes are super nasty. Yes, there ARE super nasty clothes there, but you've got to be brave and know what you're looking for. Be patient and keep your eyes open and you can find some really nice stuff. I nabbed the jeans for $4 and got a nice dress shirt for work as well for the same price. Protip: Wash your thrift clothes before you wear them or hang them in your closet. Always. 

Now, I'm all prepared to make capris. I pulled out my sewing machine which I only have a small knowledge of and got to work. First step- I stood in the mirror and eyeballed about the length I want. Hold your breath and cut off the excess. I know I only spend a few bucks, but they are good jeans and cutting them cuts into my cheap soul a little bit. 

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Now that there's no going back, I fiddled with the cuff I wanted. Fold, try on, adjust, take off, fold, try on, adjust, repeat. Once I got them where I wanted them, I ironed a pretty good crease into them. I made sure the cuffs lined up as best as I could and added a good bit of steam. 

ImageI have the leg pulled back so you can see both cuffs. I promise they aren't that uneven. From there, I headed to the sewing majigger. I started at one of the thick seams and went across the top of the cuff. As I approached the seams, I knew my machine couldn't go over them, so I went as far as I could, then backstitched a little. I don't know if that's the proper protocol for sewing denim, but that's what I did and I'm pretty sure it looks just fine. 

ImageOverall, I'm very happy with the way they turned out. I want to add some lace trim I have lying around to the back pockets one day when I'm a little braver with a needle and thread. I also wanted to show off my half-priced Sally Hansen nail stickers. I found the music print at Tuesday Morning for $4. My other nails have black polish with a sparkley gold top layer. Tomorrow is our first football game of the year, so I wanted to have a bit of school spirit. Please ignore my chubby stubby hand. I do have a thumb, but it's holding the jeans. 

Before I sign off for the evening, I'd like to introduce you to the Chicken Pizzadilla. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the original version, but it would give you heart disease just by looking at it. I discovered this glorious food in the little town where I work at one of like three places to eat. It's technically a gas station, but they serve sandwiches, pizzas, fried chicken, and the like. 

Original Chicken Pizzadilla. Start with a large pizza crust, top with lots of ranch dressing and mozzarella cheese. Cover with grilled chicken strips and bacon. Add more cheese and ranch and fold the crust over. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy about this, but it is every bit as delicious as it sounds.

I decided that I wanted to attempt to make a slightly healthier version. I started with a pizza crust mix from Walmart, which despite being part Italian, I could not make look like a round pizza should look like. Ugly is still edible. I spread some Walden Farms Ranch Dressing over the crust after it had baked a few minutes. Now, if you haven't heard of Walden Farms, it's time you had. They make dressings and toppings that are calorie free. WHAT?! Calorie free Ranch dressing! Now, you can taste the difference for sure, but it isn't bad tasting at all. It's kind of nice because it doesn't taste like you're drinking your arteries full. (Side note: I love their BBQ sauce, other salad dressings, and I'm eager to try their ketchup and chocolate syrup.)

After the thin layer of ranch, I added shredded mozzarella cheese and a premixed/precooked chicken topping I had already prepared. Back when I made Bacon Pancakes, I saved 3-5 slices of bacon. I pulled all the fat off and crumbled the bacon into a bag. I then cut up a chicken breast into teeny tiny bits and sprinkled a bit of ranch dressing mix (the powdered kind) onto the chicken. I put it all in the bag and mixed it up to store in the freezer. When I stated the crust, I pulled out the mix and cooked up the chicken. 

Top your pizza crust with ranch, mozzarella, chicken, bacon, and a little more mozzarella and put it back in the oven.

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Oh man. It was so good, and it really made a whole lot of food. I didn't calculate specific calories, but without extra grease, butter, oil, and fat, I don't think it would be too bad for you.

I hereby declare today a huge win. Now if I can just survive tomorrow- 8 class periods, a pep rally, a 1.5 hour bus ride to a football game, said football game, bus ride back, then the additional drive home. I'd better take my Tardis blanket and get started crocheting! 

 

 

18
Aug
2013

Bacon Pancakes

Posted by Nicole

Alright kiddos, today we're going to learn how to make bacon pancakes. You take some bacon and put it in a pancake. Inspired by Adventure Time, bacon pancakes have been a long running joke between my husband and I. Back in the days of cable, we watched goofy cartoons together, and this show would definitely fit the goofy label. Or stupid, whichever you prefer. 

In one episode, one of the characters can be seen singing a song about a beautiful creation called the bacon pancake. The song is catchy and repetitive and quickly was set as my husband's ringtone. He didn't realize it and was confused when I answered the phone "Hey Bacon Pancakes!" every time he called. 

Saturday morning, I decided to make bacon pancakes for real. There isn't exactly a recipe to follow besides "Take some bacon and put it in a pancake." so that's exactly what I did. 

Step one. Take some bacon. Do you see that bacon? It's from Pig Pig and it is ultra thick and just perfect.

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Step two- put it in a pancake. This part was a little ambiguous, so I just tried to stick with the instructions. I made up a batch of Bisquick because I don't make pancakes from scratch. I set the bacon in the skillet after it was cooked and poured the batter over the top. 

ImageThis was after the first flip. I should take a moment to comment on the fact that I have never in my life been able to make pancakes. Why I thought this would change on that particular morning is beyond me. When I first got married, on our first Saturday in our new home together, I wanted to make a big breakfast for my husband. Of course pancakes should be involved. No. It ended up with me in tears because I couldn't flip a pancake and they were all either burned or undercooked. I've probably gone through 3-4 boxes of pancake mix in my time being married, and not ONCE did I make an acceptable pancake that wasn't all wonky looking. 

Well, these look like they're going to end up slightly charred but possibly salvageable.

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They turned out edible at least. My husband ate more than one and didn't even make a face while he did it. (Maybe he's just learned that's the safest way to keep me from crying about pancakes.) I ate a few and thought they weren't bad. I don't know that the bacon added anything. I'd rather just have my bacon and pancakes separate. Maybe next time I'll shred the pieces up and just mix it in the batter... or I'll just let my husband stick to the pancake flipping.

If you decide to try these yourself, it's required you listen to this song while cooking. Give this one a few seconds, it isn't the same video as above. 

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12
Aug
2013

Potato Circles and Zucchini Chips

Posted by Nicole

I'm going to tell you a secret. I stinkin' love potatoes. J'adore les pommes de terre. (Sorry about the obscure inside joke from high school) Like, a lot. French fries, potato wedges, mashed potatoes, they're just all so good. I thought I'd let you join me today for a quick, tasty lunch.

Today, I made Potato Circles (I've gotta find a better name for these) and Zucchini Chips. These are the same potato circles I talked about a few posts ago, but now with pictures. Start with one potato and one zucchini. Peel your potato, and then slice both veggies.

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I started by putting the zucchini slices in a mixing bowl with one teaspoon of vegetable oil. I don't normally use this much, but I wanted to get an accurate measurement. I then dumped in a few shakes of Mrs. Dash. I didn't measure, but here's about how much I added.

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Mix them all up with your hand and get the slices coated well with seasoning. I lined them out on a sprayed baking pan. Next, I dumped the potatoes in the same bowl and put in a little bit more oil. Instead of Mrs. Dash, I used seasoning salt and mixed it up the same way.

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Pop the tray in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. At this point, I pulled the tray out and took the zucchini off (although, I should have left them on a few more minutes). I added one ounce of light turkey slices and 1/4 cup of "Italian Style Cheese" from Aldi to the potatoes. Put them back in the oven until the cheese is melted- about two minutes. 

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This makes an awful lot of food, but it's a good filling lunch. You've got tons of veggies and a little protein thrown in for good measure too! You can play around with seasonings and toppings and leave them in the oven a little longer. I get impatient and I don't care for crunchy food (mmm, floppy bacon), so this is just right for me. 

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Today, I enlisted the help of my fabulous grandmother to make "Breakfast Bites." Grandma is the champion of finding these delicious recipes and sharing them on Facebook. This one in particular can be found on Heather Pettit's page. It reads as follows...

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Breakfast Bites--25 minutes to perfection. 1 package of pre-shredded potatoes (refrigerated section next to the eggs), 3 eggs, beaten, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 finely chopped onion (optional), 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan. Pour potatoes into a bowl, add the salt, garlic powder and onion, stir to combine. Pour in the egg and give it another stir, then add the cheese and mix it all up. Spoon into mini muffin tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops and edges begin to get crispy. Eat warm, or cool and freeze into individual packs and heat for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Breakfast is made for the whole week!

So of course, this sounds like a great plan! We substituted making our own hash browns from real potatoes, but followed the recipe exactly... sort of... We split the mixture into three batches and made one from the recipe, one without onion, and one with ground sausage.

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Do you see that sausage? In the words of my father-in-law, it's "Gosh dang flippin" good sausage. I'm a little partial, because I raised the pig it came from, but really, it's the best sausage I've had in my life. Wait, did she say she raised a pig? Yes. Yes I did, but that's another story for another day. He was and is delicious. Okay, so we filled up our muffin tins and stuck them in the oven for a while. They came out looking great, and pretty much like the picture. Don't look at that back tray..

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The tray on the right is my cram-packed version, and the left one is my grandma's not-crammed version. The only difference was I squished mine down. The things in the front are potato "chips" and I'll talk about those at the end of this post. Verdict: These little guys are pretty dang good. We followed the recipe and got 36 bites out of it (we used 3 potatoes I think). There was just a little bit of mix left over, but only enough to make one or two, so we didn't bother and just left it on the counter. Just so you know, once you peel or cut into a potato, the air makes the starch turn dark brown/black. After sitting on the counter for a while, the leftover bit was this awful nasty color and just flat out gross. So, I'd advise you clean up quickly when you're done. Bites without onion-These aren't bad at all, but they felt like they were lacking something. Regular bites- These were pretty good. I think the onion really helped. You could add something else like bell peppers too.  Sausage bites- Oh mah goodness. Let's just say these didn't make it to the freezer to eat next week. In a good way.

Potato Chips So, here's a double-header recipe for today. I developed my own potato wedge/chip recipe by combining a bunch of different ones from Pinterest. Normally, I will peel a potato and slice it as thin as I can. I average probably 1/8 inch thickness, but it's very inconsistent and doesn't really matter. I dump the slices in a big bowl and either put a tiny splash (maybe 2 tsp?) of oil in there, then dump a generous helping of seasoning salt on top. I give it a good mix with my hands, and spread them on an oiled baking sheet. Pop those bad boys in the oven at 350 for 15-30 minutes depending on thickness and level of crunchiness you want. OKAY. Now you have two options. Either eat these delicious French fry-circles plain, with ketchup, or dunked in left over Chick Fil-a sauce that you have because you always ask for like, four extra packets so you can eat it at home. Seriously, if they would just go ahead and bottle that stuff up, that'd be great. Option two, pull the potatoes out 1-2 minutes early and put toppings on. What toppings? Whatever you dang well want. I've done shredded cheese and bacon bits, Italian cheese and imitation crab meat (don't judge), or more seasonings. It's your job to get creative here. Today, as you can see in the pictures, we attempted to make a chip consistency by slicing the potato really thin. My grandma has all sorts of fancy kitchen tools that can do that, and I do not (except now I do because she had an extra Salad Shooter just lying around). Same prep method, timing was more of a "keep an eye on it." They came out either kind of squisy or burnt. Still edible, but I think I'm going to stick to the thicker wedgie version. Heh. Wedgie. I know you want a recipe to share on your Facebook page, so here you go.

Nicole's Potato Circley Things Ingredients:

  • However many potatoes you want
  • Seasoning salt, or whatever seasonings you like
  • Oil, whatever kind you prefer to cook with, but not rotor oil, because that only goes on French horns and trigger trombones, it does NOT go on your trumpet, okay? No. Put it back. Make sure the bottle says VALVE oil. No, not key oil. V-A-L-V-E. Now go sit down.
  • Toppings

Preheat oven to 350. Spray your baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice the potato fairly thin, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Those annoying half-slices that you get as your cut gets more and more crooked are fine and will work just fine. Dump the slices in a bowl and either pour a little splash of oil in or spray them really good with cooking spray. Add in however much seasoning you want. I'd go a little heavier than you think because some of it manages to disappear during cooking. Spread them out on your sheet and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. Check on them occasionally as some may be done and turn brown quicker than others. You may have to leave some in a bit longer as well. They're done when you start to see browning on the tops and edges, but before they shrivel up into a brown flake.

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08
Aug
2013

Illegal Broccoli

Posted by Nicole

Surely a vegetable can't be illegal, can it? There's been a recent trend of people using Facebook as Pinterest lately. A page will say "Share this so it saves to your page!" or something along those lines, so people are saving all sorts of great recipes on their page... and my news feed. This is all fine and dandy, but when I see the same cheesecake cookie 45 times, I begin to have cravings. (Side note, you could always take a pen and just write the recipe down like they did in the early days...)

Anyways, a recipe for "Broccoli So Good It Should Be Illegal" has made multiple appearances on my feed lately. It's hosted on the Mommy Made Facebook page. Here's the recipe that has been posted. 

Preheat oven to 375°
Chop a head of broccoli (do not rinse immediately prior to preparing!)
Mince 2-3 cloves of garlic
Put broccoli, garlic, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and a few shakes of salt and pepper in a ziploc bag.
Shake it up (my daughter loves to do this part)
Spread out on baking sheet, place on top rack, and bake for about 30 minutes.
Broccoli will be crunchy and delicious! I make this at least 3 times a week and have to control myself once I take it out of the oven, I could eat this alone for dinner! 

Well, I don't have fresh broccoli, but I do have about six steamer bags in my freezer. They say to microwave for 4-4.5 minutes, so I stuck them in the microwave for two. They were still pretty cold, but not frozen anymore. I prepped my oven as I did this. As for the garlic, I love it but HATE garlic breath, so I opted for a few shakes of garlic salt. I put the broccoli, garlic salt, and 5-8 shakes of Mrs. Dash (I could write a whole post on Mrs. Dash) in a gallon sized bag. Instead of using that much oil, I just took some butter flavored cooking spray and sprayed the mix in the bag really well. I shook it all up and everything seemed to spread out evenly.

I then spread out the broccoli on a cookie sheet and baked at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Verdict: Sorry, I didn't take a picture. The time in the oven sucks out the moisture from the broccoli, so it had a little bit of a crunch on the ends, but not all the way through. I thought it tasted great and ate nearly the whole bag. I sprinkled some Italian shredded cheese over the top as it came out of the oven, and it was delicious. 

Don't feel like you HAVE to use fresh broccoli. Use any seasonings you want, add any toppings. This recipe was really versatile, and I'll be making it again!

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