February 28, 2010

What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?

When I got this new roaster last year she just had to check it out.
Is she just too cute, or what?!

February 27, 2010

Dinner Time Quiz Show

I realize that this isn't necessarily kitchen related but it's something we love to do together as a family while we're eating dinner. It's from my family blog. Enjoy.

Even though there are a lot of families that don't eat the dinner meal together, we try to every night of the week (and weekends, too). As you can imagine, having 10 people in one room for a meal can get pretty loud with the "Please pass the...". To keep everyone busy --yes, eating keeps them busy enough but they still find time to raise a ruckus -- we came up with what we call the "Dinner Time Quiz Show". Daddy is usually the host unless he's not home, then Mommy is the fill-in. We start with the youngest because we like to hear their answer that's not swayed by an older sibling's answer. Daddy will ask the question of everyone, youngest to oldest. Even the adults. While one of the goals of this game is to keep them occupied, the main goal is to get to know their likes and dislikes and to implicitly remind them that each person in the family is important. It might go something like..."Eli, what is your favorite Star Wars character?" Everyone waits on his answer. Even if he takes a bit of time thinking (or chewing)! Then we move on to the next person. Following are a few topics we use...

Star Wars character (Eli's always asking for this one)
Little House character
Seasonal activity (depending on the season we ask them what they like to do in the summer, etc.)
Place to go during the week
Vacation that we had in the past
Meal that Mommy makes

Star Wars character (again...Eli)
Little House character (usually Nellie Olsen!)
Meal that Mommy makes (I know...I cringe when I hear answers that contain some of the adult's favorite meals, but they're allowed to share!)

I think you get the idea...what are some quiz topics you might use? I like new ideas...please share!

February 26, 2010

Cinnamon Chicken

In season 6 of Little House on the Prairie there's an episode where Laura makes a meal for Almonzo but Nellie is pretending that she made it. Laura is upset with Nellie so she puts cayenne pepper in the mix instead of cinnamon. It's one of my favorite episodes. Hilarious to say the least!

Every time I make this the kids chatter on and on about that episode. But then of course we have to a-hem and remind them that it wasn't very nice of Laura. (But it sure was funny!)

Cinnamon Chicken
2 whole chickens (see note below)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
2 T. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic salt

Blend together broth, cinnamon, honey, lemon juice, cumin, chili powder, and garlic salt. Place chicken in a large ungreased roasting pan (I use my roaster); pour mixture over chicken. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. (Make sure that you have plenty of room between the chickens to let air circulate.) Let them rest for about 20 minutes to retain moisture.

Note: You can use chicken pieces such as breast on the bone with skin. Cooking time will be less (about an hour) and you'll want to lower the temperature to about 375 degrees.

February 25, 2010

Creamy Chicken -n- Noodle Casserole

This recipe came from a friend many years ago. I think my family would eat it every day if I served it. Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken -n- Noodle Casserole
16 oz. egg noodles (cooked)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 can of milk (I'm into dirtying as few dishes as possible!)
1/4 c. butter
1/2 lb. Velveeta
1 can of cooked chunk chicken (or 1/2 - 1 lb. cooked, chopped chicken -- depends on your preference)

Cook the egg noodles. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan.  Stir until the mixture is nice and creamy. Stir in the chicken and combine with the noodles.

Notes: You can put this in a baking dish and add cracker crumbles or crumbled chips as a topping and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Or you can skip that step and just add the noodles to the bowl and serve from there. *whisper* That's what I do. They don't care about the fancy-schmancy presentation. But don't tell them there's an option. ; )

Or...you can make this mid-afternoon and then put it in a crock pot on warm to keep it warm. This is such a versatile dish! Oh so many options!

Also there are no leftovers with this meal. If I make a double batch then there might be a little bit for lunch the next day but the more I make the more they eat. I guess it's a good problem to have, eh?

February 24, 2010

Lemony Pork Piccata

Here's another Gooseberry Patch recipe that our whole family loves! (I've tweaked it a bit.)

Lemony Pork Piccata

2 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced into 16 portions

4 t. lemon-pepper seasoning

6 T. all-purpose flour

4T. butter

1/2 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. lemon juice (I use the bottled kind)

Pound pork into slices to 1/8 inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Lightly sprinkle pork with lemon-pepper seasoning and flour. Melt 2 T. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork and saute 2-3 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and pork. Remove pork to a serving plate; set aside.

Add chicken broth and lemon juice to skillet. Cook 2 minutes until slightly thickened, scraping up browned bits. Add pork and heat thoroughly.

Serve over quick-cooking angel hair pasta or brown rice to enjoy every drop of the lemony goodness!

February 23, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Saving Money in the Kitchen

As I've mentioned before the recipes posted on this blog are ones we use on a regular basis. Occasionally there's a special one thrown in. But for the most part the meals are simple and inexpensive. The Hubster is a part time teacher and part time pastor...very respected professions but with meager incomes. Part of my job as a stay-at-home mom is to save our family as much money as possible.

Are Coupons Worth It?
One of those ways is using coupons and stocking up the pantry. The latter is simple...when I see something on sale and especially if I have coupons I buy enough that will last us until the next sale. For example, the other day Kroger had General Mills cereal, Pillsbury biscuits, and Betty Crocker muffin mix on sale. I had several coupons so I bought what I could with the coupons. They also had a special deal going that was buy 10 get $3 off. I came home with several boxes of cereal, boxes of muffin mix, tubes of biscuits and a few bottles of Soft Soap (they paid me to buy it...they coupon tripled!). My grand total was $34 and change and I bought 33 items. Did I need cereal for that week? No. Did I need biscuits for that week? No. Did I need 6 boxes of muffin mix for that week and soap? No. But...I knew eventually I would and I could not turn away paying on average $1 for each of those things. So we stocked up in the pantry.

We are fortunate to have two freezers, an extra refrigerator, and lots of storage space in the basement, plus extra storage space in the kitchen, hallway, and laundry room. I know some of you might be short on space. But where there's a will, there's a way. Before we moved into this house we used a closet in the spare bathroom to keep extra toiletries, a closet in the family room, and stored other items in the mudroom. Sometimes you have to think unconventionally. Think of space that's not being used to it's maximum benefit to you and rethink it. When stocking up, though, be careful to look at expiration dates. If you won't use it up before the exp. date it's not worth it. I have finally gotten to the point that when I grocery shop the main items on the list are those that I will stock up on, plus enough milk and produce for the week. My goal each week is $150 a week for groceries (including stops at CVS and Walgreens). Last week we were under by $10. I spent $140 and saved $40 in coupons and $50 in store savings. This week so far total's at $30. I have still to stock up on some meat at Meijer that's on sale and I have a stocking up trip planned for the bakery outlet.

Saving money with coupons can be a chore, but like I said...it's part of my job. Would I rather be able to go to the store and just shop away, not concerned about unit prices and not having to file through my coupon box in the cart? Well, sure! But I can't. I can't feed my family on store brand items, and just the sales. I know several people swear by shopping at W*lmart and don't even use coupons, but I don't know how they do it. Let's use mustard for example. W*lmart brand is 99 cents. Name brand is 1. 25. I could either "save" and just buy the store brand or I could use my 35 cent coupon and pay.90. Or, better yet, I can go to Kroger (where they triple coupons) and pay 20 cents. The latter makes the most sense to me. O.K....off my soap box...

Storing Coupons
I use a diaper wipes container (FYI-Huggies) to hold my coupons. There are so many different ways to organize coupons and I've tried several of them, but the diaper wipes box works for me.
I take regular size envelopes (not the legal size) and cup the flap off. Then I take a 3x5 card, cut it in half, turn it and write the name of the items for at the top of it with a sharpie. I tape that in the envelope so that it stays put. Then I file my coupons in it.

Finding Coupons
I find them in the newspaper insert every week, but I don't get very many that way. I print a lot of coupons on coupons.com, and smartsource.com. If you have a Meijer in your area you can print Meijer coupons at meijermealbox.com to stack with manufacturer's coupons. Crystal at moneysavingmom.com is great at posting deals and links to coupons. Usually you can print each coupon twice per computer. We have two computers linked to our printer so I can print 4 of each coupon. I also order coupons on thecouponclippers.com. They charge a clipping fee of 5 cents to 15 cents per coupon. If you have a 50 cent coupon that will double and have to pay 10 cents for it then you'll save 90 cents in the long run. There are order limits on some of the coupons and they charge a small fee of 50 cents per order plus shipping (a stamp or two...depending on how many coupons you order). There's a minimum order of $4. If I see a lot of good coupons in Sunday's paper I'll hop on Sunday evening and place my order. It'll ship Monday and since they're in Florida and I'm in Indiana it takes about 4 days or so, so I'll plan my shopping for a Friday that week. I'll save a ton!!

Doubling and Tripling Coupons
Most stores double or triple up to 50 cents so you'll have to find out what your favorite store policy is. Most will ad match; meaning you show them a current ad from a store and they will give it to you for that price (most will only ad match for 2 per item). Meijer will let you do two transactions at a time, but to my knowledge Kroger won't. I have been known to go through the check out line, do the transactions I'm allowed, take my groceries out to the van, then go back in for a quick trip. Hey...it's a little bit of legwork, but it saves us a lot of money!

Are shopping at drug stores worth it?
Yes! Check out iheartcvs.com and iheartwags.com for some great savings and shopping tips at CVS and Walgreen's. They even post ads that are a few weeks away. That will help you see what sales are coming and if you can save even more money holding onto a coupon for something that they'll have on sale in a few weeks.

A Wonderful Book to Help You!
Bethany over at Penny Pantry expounds more on the idea of building a pantry, using coupons and sales to your advantage. Hop on over and take a look.

I just purchased her e-book. The Penny Pantry Guide and I found a lot of useful information and tips. It's $9.95 but if you use this coupon code "oldhouse" you can save $2 so it will be $7.95 for you! It's over 70 pages of information on building a pantry, using coupons, and how to shop sales. You can download it, print it out and put it in a binder. Add your own notes and keep if for future reference! Just click on the picture of the book above to read more information or order. Let them know Carmen at Old House Kitchen sent you!

What I've covered here is only the tip of the iceberg. Check out Bethany's book and moneysavingmom.com for more in depth details!!

Candy Land Cake

This post is copied from a family blog post from over 2 years ago.

My 3 year old saw this in the Taste of Home magazine and asked me to make it for her for her birthday. Since her birthday isn't until March I would probably lose the picture or clipping so I decided to put the picture and "recipe" on my blog so that you all could enjoy it and so that I'd have it for later! Assuming the three year old still wants that sort of cake...I'm doubting it, but it's worth keeping!

So...here it goes...

Candy Land Cake

2 packages (18-1/4 ounces each) cake mix of your choice

Vanilla and chocolate frosting

Green mist food color spray, optional

Assorted decorations: Starburst candies, red Fruit Roll-Up, red coarse sugar, Dots, regular and miniature peanut butter cups, chocolate jimmies, large and small gumdrops, Dum Dum Pops, miniature candy canes, clear and blue rock candy, cake and waffle ice cream cones, multicolored sprinkles, green colored sugar, miniature marshmallows, round peppermints and conversation hearts


Line two 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pans with waxed paper and grease the paper. Prepare cake batter; pour into prepared pans. Bake according to package directions. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely; remove waxed paper.
Level tops of cakes; place side by side on a covered board. Frost top and sides of cake with vanilla frosting; mist with food color spray if desired.
With Candy Land game board as your guide, form a path using Starburst candies. With vanilla frosting, pipe "Happy Birthday" on candies. With chocolate frosting, make an arrow; pipe "Start" on the arrow with vanilla frosting.
For the Mountain/Gumdrop pass, use a red Fruit Roll-Up, red coarse sugar and Dots.
For forests, add peanut butter cups topped with piped chocolate frosting, chocolate jimmies, gumdrops, Dum Dum Pops, candy canes and rock candy.
For castle, pipe vanilla frosting into ice cream cones. Garnish with Dots and sprinkles.
Between the pathways, add green colored sugar, sprinkles, miniature marshmallows, peppermints and conversation hearts. Pipe additional frosting to fill in spaces; top with sprinkles.
Pipe vanilla frosting around base of cake; place peppermints around top edge of cake. Yield: 30-40 servings. Editor's Note: This cake is best eaten the day it's prepared. Do not refrigerate.

February 22, 2010

Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

This is a regular morning treat at our house. Usually on Sunday mornings when we are busily getting ready for church. It's originally a Williams-Sonoma recipe but I've tweaked it a bit. The sour cream makes it so moist.

Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

2 med-ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 lg. eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 heaping cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan. Mash bananas well w/ a fork and set aside. Stir together flour, sugar, soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, vanilla, butter and bananas. Stir wet and dry ingredients until moist. Carefully fold in blueberries. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes (until done...test it first with a cake tester or knife). Let cool in pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto the rack and cool completely. Wrap it up to keep it fresh. This bread freezes well, too!

--I quadruple the recipe to make four loaves at one time, but you'll need a really big bowl!

Menu Plan Monday -- Week of Feb. 22

This week's menu plan:

Monday (Feb. 22)
Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: left over chicken (from yesterday's lunch) in sandwiches, cheese and crackers, carrots
Dinner: scrambled eggs, french toast, Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

Tuesday (Feb. 23)
Breakfast: leftovers from breakfast dinner, and bagels
Lunch: grilled cheese/grilled p.b., grapes, carrots
Dinner: Lasagna, Rigatoni, garlic bread, veggies, brownies (We're having company so I'm making both main dishes for variety. Plus my kiddos enjoy Rigatoni more than Lasagna.)

Wednesday (Feb. 24) -- this is our busy day so I use the crock pot for lunch and dinner
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: Chicken Rice Soup
Dinner: tacos, carrots, chips, applesauce

Thursday (Feb. 25)
Breakfast: bagels w/ cream cheese and homemade jam
Lunch: left over tacos, carrots, chips, apple slices and grapes
Dinner: Out? (We have Pizza Hut "Book-It" coupons so we may go there. If not, then I'll come up with something!)

Friday (Feb. 26)
Breakfast: biscuit, egg, & cheese sandwiches
Lunch: what ever's in the fridge or grilled cheese
Dinner: homemade pizza??

Saturday (Feb. 27)
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: left over pizza?
Dinner: Cinnamon chicken, steak fries, veggies, rolls

Sunday (Feb. 28)
Breakfast: baked egg with bacon casserole and muffins
Lunch: pork loin in gravy, smashed potatoes, veggies, cottage cheese, rolls
Dinner: "Clean out the fridge night!" (We use up whatever leftovers are still there and come up with some interesting combos!) carrots, apple slices

February 21, 2010

From My Kitchen Window...

I know...this isn't really from my kitchen window, but they're the chives that grow in our herb garden. And yes, I know they definitely don't look like this right now. I just thought I'd give you all a little spring inspiration!

February 20, 2010

Gardening: How to Save Big Bucks in the Kitchen

I placed my seed order yesterday at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Their seeds may seem a little pricey compared to W*l-mrt or L*wes, but they are not modified in any way and you can save their seeds for the next summer. I wasn't diligent last fall to save seeds but I plan to this year. (By the way...usually a hybrid fruit or veggie's seeds can not be used for the following season.)

We spend easily $10 a week on frozen or canned veggies. For me to spend $2 on a packet of carrot seeds that will feed us for several months is definitely worth it! You don't have to have a huge garden to grow veggies. Raised beds are great, we've done that before and it worked great. Green peppers and tomatoes grow well in pots. So do herbs! At our current homestead we have a large area that was tilled once before for a garden so we're using that space. The Hubster has put in trellises for our cucumbers/pickles, tomatoes, and beans. I have to remember to rotate our crops after this season so we don't have to worry about plant disease. We have a herb garden area outside the side door by the kitchen. I've seen portable kitchen herb gardens that you can make yourself. You can also grow herbs on your kitchen window sill!

I've ordered now because soon I have to start a lot of my seeds inside so they are ready to plant in May. I ordered a handy dandy chart that will help in my planning...it's at the bottom of the list.

Here's my list of seeds that I ordered, their order number from Baker Creek and what I plan to do with them:

BN108 McCaslin 42 Pole Bean (I ordered 3 packets of these! We intend to freeze a lot!)

BR105 Waltham 29 Broccoli

CR103 Little Finger Carrot (I ordered 3 packets of these! We intend to freeze a lot!)

CR118 Muscade Carrot

CU143 Edmondson Cucumber (We'll eat these as cucumbers and they make great pickles)

LT125 Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce (I ordered 2 packets...we loved this lettuce last year!)

GP104 Lincoln Garden Pea (We have never grown peas before...we'll see how we do.)

PP106 California Wonder Pepper

SP102 New Zealand Spinach (I ordered 2 packets of these. I hope they work out!)

SQ153 Butternut Rogosa Violina Gioia Squash

SQ131 New England Sugar Pie Pumpkin (I would like to use these to make pies, but last year they were a bit too little and I didn't get many so I used them to decorate the homestead.)

SQ129 Connecticut Field Pumpkin (Fall decorations!)

TK120 Mortgage Lifter Tomato (Good slicing tomato for burgers!)

TM132 Riesentraube Tomato (I hear these are great cherry-like tomatoes!)

TM103 Royal Chico Tomato (We grew these last year -- they were great!!)

HB101 Basil - Genovese (I hope to enlarge my herb garden area and dry some basil.)

HB124 Bee Balm Lemon (I hear this is great to treat colds and headaches...reading up on that.)

HB143 Cilantro, Slo-Bolt (I plan to make lots of salsa!)

HB126 Dill Bouquet (I canned pickles last summer and used home grown dill in them!)

HB158 Feverfew (This is supposed to repel insects...I plan to learn how.)

HB118 German Chamomile (I plan to make tea!)

HB112 Lavender (I plan to dry this and sell. Again...we'll see.)

HB133 Parsley Giant Of Italy (To use in cooking!)

HB114 Yarrow (This is a beautiful dried flower and also good to treat colds.)

I plan to use the following flowers around the homestead. I bought 4 packets of the Alaska Shasta Daisies to sow in to the border by the road.

Kilimanjaro White Marigold

FL424 Majorette Double Yellow

FL745 Henry Wilde

WF117 Alaska Shasta Daisy


Clydes Garden Planner (I hope this helps me be a bit more organized this year!!)

Like I always say...it's good to have a goal. My main goal is that we'll be able to eat healthy meals in the summer and freeze what we can eat in the winter.

What are your gardening plans this summer?

February 19, 2010

Baked Oatmeal

This is a much requested breakfast treat.  May your family enjoy it as much as mine!

Baked Oatmeal

4 1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. salt

In a separate bowl mix:
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. applesauce*(or oil)

Mix and bake in 9x13 greased pan in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 25-30 minutes

*Note: The applesauce tastes much better than the oil (in my opinion anyway).

I mix this (dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another (and put in the fridge)) the night before so all I have to do in the morning is preheat the oven, mix all of it together, pour in a pan and pop it in the oven. I also add raisins to one half since half of my gang doesn't like raisins. (Just spoon them over one half and push them down in a bit.)

I'm sure there's a healthier alternative to the brown sugar...if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

February 18, 2010

Sausage Rolls

As I mentioned before I have a lot of Pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and I made these again this week so I thought I'd post the recipe...

Sausage Rolls

1 lb. breakfast sausage (I buy Bob Evans when there's a good sale and I have a coupon.)
3 tubes of crescent rolls
shredded cheddar cheese or any other filler you'd like to add...eggs, veggies, etc.

Brown, drain and crumble sausage
Unroll crescent roll dough and seal two triangles together to make a rectangle (Betcha didn't know we were covering geometry in the kitchen today, did ya?) Continue until they're all connected and laying on baking sheets.
On one side of the rectangle of the crescent roll dough put a heaping tablespoons of meat on each dough rectangle. If you have more meat left over distribute it evenly among the dough rectangles. Top with cheese, fold the dough over and pinch it around the edges. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until they are slightly brown on top.

Note: You can bake these ahead of time, cool, then store in the fridge for a few days for quick breakfast pockets (especially if you put egg in them too!). Just pop them in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

February 17, 2010

Chicken Burritos

We have a certain child who really doesn't like anything made with sour cream in it. I made this and didn't reveal what was in it. He loved it. What he doesn't know won't hurt him, right? (This recipe is from Gooseberry Patch.)

Chicken Burritos
2 lb. cooked and shredded (or chopped) chicken

1 1/2 c. salsa (divided)

1 c. sour cream

8 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 c. shredded colby-jack cheese (or mexican blend kind)

Combine chicken, 1/2 cup salsa and sour cream in a large bow. Spoon chicken mixture evenly onto tortillas. Fold up sides and roll up, burrito-style; place in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Mix together soup and remaining salsa (1 c.); pour over burritoes.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with chopped black olives, tomatoes, sour cream, baked beans, mexican rice, etc.

Note: When I bake this I double the recipe (using my BigOven program!) and bake in two dishes. I put them in the oven together and rotate the pans half-way. I find that the bottom of the burritos aren't as crunchy and easier to cut this way. When baking together the bottom dish shields the top dish from the intense heat. Make sense?

February 16, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: My Go-To's

If you're like me and totally not like Ms. Stewart then you have days that you don't want to actually create a meal or have the money to order something to be delivered. I have what I call my "Go-To's"; my quick fixes that are a no-brainer and easy on the budget. I stock up on the items below when they are on sale and I have coupons. I save them for desperate moments like days when I have a headache or it's been really busy or I, um...am feeling a bit un-motivated. Here are my "Go-To's"...

Meatball subs
Frozen or homemade meatballs (warm them up in the microwave)
Spaghetti sauce (warm this a bit, too)
Sub buns or hot dog buns (sub buns are much better!)
Shredded mozzarella or colby-jack cheese
Ranch dressing

Assemble the subs and then pop them in the microwave or oven to melt the cheese
Top with tomatoes and lettuce and drizzle a little ranch dressing on it!

Cheese Quesadillas
Flour tortillas
Shredded mexican cheese blend or colby-jack cheese
(Mozzarella is nice on it, too)

Warm an electric griddle or fry pan on the stove and lay out the bottom tortillas add cheese and then top with a tortilla.
Peek at the underside ever-so-often to make sure it's not browning too much
Flip when you think it's ready and finish cooking it

Cut in quarters with a pizza cutter and serve with sour cream, salsa, refried beans, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole if you like.

Note: if you make a big batch of chicken taco meat then freeze it you can pop a bag of it in the microwave to defrost and then add that to the cheese on the quesadillas

Bagel & Egg Sandwiches
I stock up at the bakery and bread outlet in town about once a month or so. They have bagels, bread, buns, etc. that are near the expiration date but freeze well. I can get a package of bagels for less than 50 cents a package. We also have chickens so we get eggs...not enough for my liking since it's winter and all...but enough that once a week or so we can have bagel and egg sandwiches off the cuff.

Scrambled eggs: (mix in a bowl and cook in a skillet on medium, stirring frequently)
1 dozen eggs
1/3 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. salt

Grilled Peanut Butter
Two of our girls have a peanut allergy so I also make grilled cheese to go with it. Spread peanut butter on a slice of bread, put another slice on it and then butter the back of that, put it on the griddle and butter the other side. Grill to your liking. It's good! Really!


Pie Crust Recipe

I've tried pie crust recipes with lard, I've tried them with butter, but they haven't come out quite as nice as with Crisco shortening. I like using lard but they're a bit more difficult to roll out. Might just be my personal issue, but I'll stick with what works for me. If you have a great lard pie crust recipe please share it and maybe I'll change my mind. ; )

Pie Crust Recipe

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Crisco shortening
7-8 T cold water (I put water in a mug with some ice cubes so it's really cold!)

In a mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 2 T of water over the part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push to the side of the bowl. Repeat until all is moistened. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball with your hands. Roll the dough from center to edges forming a circle about 12 inches (for a 9-inch pie plate). Wrap pastry around the rolling pin and unroll onto the plate. Be careful not to stretch the crust. Trim the crust even with the edge of the pie plate.
For the top crust, roll the remaining dough out like the other. If using a small cookie cutter to cut out pieces of the top crust now is the time to do it. Fill the pasty in pie place with filling. Trim the top crust about 1/2 inch beyond edge of the plate. Fold the top crust under the bottom crust and flute the edge. If you didn't make cute little cut-outs then you need to cut about 4 1-inch slits in the top crust. Bake as directed in individual recipes.

Note: The trick to a great pie crust that's light and flaky is not to handle the dough too much or it'll get tough and also to roll it thin enough.

February 15, 2010

The Secret is in the Sauce

I hesitated to share this recipe because would it would reveal that I am not a "from scratch" person all the time. It would mar my rep so to speak. A good friend asked for my lasagna recipe sooo here I am, an open book, now. : )


3/4 lb. ground beef

8 -ish lasagna noodles (make 'em fit in the pan however you can) I do three in a row lengthwise and then break one into about a 2/3 piece and place it at the end (perpendicular to the other ones). I buy the oven ready kind. No need to dirty another pot, right?

1 beaten egg

2 cups cottage cheese

1/2 c. Parmesan cheese divided (I'm cheap so I use the kind in the can)

1 T dried parsley flakes

4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Are your ready for the final ingredient?? Drum roll please...

1 can of Hunt's Garlic & Herb spaghetti sauce*. There...I'm outed!

Brown beef in a small stock pot (I usually sprinkle in a little pepper, onion powder and garlic powder while it's browning), drain, and then pour in one (ugh, dare I say it again?) can of Hunt's Garlic & Herb spaghetti sauce. Heat until the sauce is warmed.

For filling: Combine the egg, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, and parsley flakes.

Layer half noodles, then half filling (spread it out the best you can), half sauce/meat mixture, sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella, then repeat. Once it's assembled sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Let it stand about 10 minutes. This gives you a chance to pop in some yummy garlic bread!

*Note: Sometimes I'm out of the Secret Sauce so I'll use a different brand. Just make sure to add some extra garlic powder, oregano, basil and hint of onion powder. I love Hunt's Garlic & Herb. Way back in the beginning of our marriage a friend shared the secret of Hunt's Garlic & Herb and it was the start of my kitchen coup d'├ętat (another story).

Menu Plan Monday -- Week of Feb. 14th

Welcome to a new addition to Old House Kitchen! I'm working on adding all of my recipes to my BigOven program. Eventually I will share with you the menu planning feature of this program. Meaning when the computer savvy Hubster has time to show me I will share it! This week's flexible edition is posted here. (If there's not a link for a recipe it will be coming soon.)

Sunday (Feb. 14)
Breakfast: Sour Cream Blueberry Bread
Lunch: The hubster brought home pizza for lunch (I was home from church with a few sick kiddos)!
Dinner: Left over pizza! I don't cook on V-Day...it's my gift from the Hubster!

Monday (Feb. 15)
Breakfast: cereal (great deals at Kroger last week!)
Lunch: leftover chicken sandwiches (from Saturday's meal), chips, carrots
Dinner: scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage rolls, Cherry Cheese Braid

Tuesday (Feb. 16)
Breakfast: leftovers from breakfast dinner
Lunch: grilled cheese/grilled p.b., grapes, carrots
Dinner: Lasagna, garlic bread, veggies, brownies

Wednesday (Feb. 17) -- this is our busy day so I use the crock pot for lunch and dinner
Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken Rice Soup
Dinner: sloppy joes, carrots, chips, applesauce

Thursday (Feb. 18)
Breakfast: bagels w/ cream cheese and homemade jam
Lunch: left over sloppy joes, carrots, chips, apple slices and grapes
Dinner: chicken stir-fry with veggies and pineapple, rice and egg rolls

Friday (Feb. 19)
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: bagel and egg sandwiches, fruit (I have lots of pears in the freezer...I might make something yummy!)
Dinner: homemade pizza (I have a great dough recipe that I'll share soon!)

Saturday (Feb. 20)
Breakfast: bagels w/ cream cheese and homemade jam
Lunch: left over pizza
Dinner: not sure yet...still thinking on that one! ; )

Sunday (Feb. 21)
Breakfast: blueberry and banana nut muffins (after Kroger tripled my coupon these were free!)
Lunch: Crock-pot chicken, smashed potatoes, veggies, cottage cheese, rolls, pineapple upside down cake
Dinner: BBQ chicken sandwiches with left over chicken from lunch, steak fries, carrots, apple slices

February 14, 2010

From My Kitchen Window...

This is the view from my kitchen window this last week after the snow storm. The outhouse behind the bush is one of the original ones from back in the day. Our house is over 150 years old so I'm not sure when "back in the day" was. The silos and barns in the background used to belong to this property but now it belongs to the Amish farm next door.

This is the valance for the kitchen window. I finally finished embroidering the trim a few weeks ago but attached it to the valance material Tuesday evening while the Hubster and I watched a movie. The trim has been my tag-along to dance, piano, etc. for over a year and I'd work on it whenever I could. If you are in the mood for some primitive embroidery patterns, check out this website .

February 13, 2010

Cherry Cheese Braid

We regularly have breakfast food for dinner. It's a favorite theme around here! I like to think my culinary expertise amazes everyone, but I think in reality they enjoy having sweet yummy main dishes! This recipe is the perfect compliment to eggs and bacon or biscuits and gravy. You can use your own bread recipe or refrigerated crescent rolls (Meijer has a great catalina promotion going on right now!) as the bread for it.

Cherry Cheese Braid

4 packages crescent rolls (8 ct.)
8 oz. package cream cheese softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lay out the crescent roll dough on two baking sheets, side by side and seal the seams together. (Lay them out so they fit on the baking sheet.) Cut 9 (3-inch) deep slits into each long side of the
Mix together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the center of each dough rectangle. Spread half of the pie filling over each cream cheese section. Fold strips of dough over cream cheese filling, alternating sides and making a braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.
Bake 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract; drizzle over warm loaves. Enjoy!

Notes: You can make this with any kind of pie filling. You can also make your own pie filling.

Homemade Pie Filling

Baking a pie is pretty easy, really. You have to have the right crust recipe (soon to come) and a great filling. We have a cherry tree in our yard so cherry pie is easy to come by at our house. We package several quart bags for the freezer for cherry crisp, cherry pie, etc. We go blueberry picking each summer to stock our freezer with yummy local grown blueberries. A visit to the strawberry patch is a common trek in summer, too. We purchase peaches from a local Amish stand or if the prices at the grocer are really good, then we go there. Point being that making your own fruit pie filling is pretty easy and good for you, too!

Combine together the following ingredients for each kind of pie:

Apple Pie Filling = 6 cups apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced), 3/4 cup sugar, 1 T flour

Blueberry Pie Filling = 4 cups blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 T flour

Cherry Pie Filling = 4 cups cherries (tart and pitted), 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup flour

Peach Pie Filling = 6 cups peaches (peeled, pitted and thinly sliced), 3/4 cup sugar, 3 T flour

Apples 1 medium = 1 cup sliced
Peaches 1 medium = 1/2 cup sliced

February 12, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cake -- Crock-Pot Style

This recipe is just in time for Valentine's Day since I "heart" lava cake and all! It looks so pretty in little ramekins, but it takes a lot of ramekins to feed this family so we go the easier route: the good 'ol crock pot! This way I can pop it in early afternoon and it's ready after dinner. It's ooey gooey fudgey goodness is extra special paired with some ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on top! Enjoy!

1 package Fudge cake mix (I like Betty Crocker's best)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups water
1 package Jello-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding Mix
2 cups cold milk
1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together cake mix, eggs, oil and water. Pour into crock-pot.

Make Jello-O pudding using the milk. Pour over the cake mix in the crock-pot. Sprinkle chocolate chips all over the top of the batter.

Cook in the crock-pot on high for about 2-3 hours until the cake is still moist but doesn't jiggle.

Note: You may want to spray the sides of your crock-pot so the cake doesn't stick to it. You can also bake this in the oven 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes...again, until moist but not jiggly.

February 11, 2010

Rigatoni Casserole

This recipe does well in the crock pot or baked in the oven! Even my children who don't care for spaghetti like this recipe! Enjoy!

1 16 oz. package of rigatoni noodles, cooked
1/2 lb. Italian sausage
26 oz. can spaghetti sauce
4 oz. pepperoni (cut pepperoni in quarters)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (canned kind is fine)

Brown sausage (drain), add sauce and pepperoni. Add cooked noodles and 1 1/2 cups cheese to meat mixture and stir. Place in a large casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Or: Crockpot on low for approx. 3-4 hours. The only thing is the cheese on top won't get bubbly and brown.

February 10, 2010


If you haven't noticed by now you'll see that I don't put chunky tomatoes, onions or (any) mushrooms in my recipes.  I told you I have semi-picky eaters to deal with here!  Onion powder, garlic powder and tomato sauce are my friends!  The family loves this chili recipe.  It's really easy and fairly inexpensive.  You can either use dry kidney beans or canned beans.


2 30 oz. cans tomato sauce (or use tomato puree from your garden tomatoes)
2 lbs. ground chuck, browned and drained
1 lbs. dry kidney beans (see Notes at the bottom)
2 T. onion powder (or 2 med. onions chopped)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 4 cloves garlic, crushed)
5 T. chili powder
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (Hubby likes a little kick and it clears the 'ol sinuses!)

Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot.  (I use a 6.5 quart.)  Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours  or on high 4-5 hours.

Notes: This serves our gang for dinner and enough for lunch the next day with some grilled cheese.  I like to make Jiffy corn bread mix to serve with it, too.  Also, try serving it with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and dip Fritos scoops in it.  We love it that way!!

Soaking and cooking dry kidney beans can be tricky.  If you don't soak and cook them well you could get ill.  Kidney beans contain a toxin.  Read more here if interested.   The day before cooking, soak the beans all day, then rinse.   Put them in a crock-pot covered in water (with a an inch or so over the top); cook on low all night (about 7 hours). Drain, then add the rest of your chili ingredients and cook on low until you're ready to eat!  Check out Mary's blog OwlHaven for how she saves money cooking with dry beans.

February 9, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday -- Kitchen Substitutions

When The Hubster and I got married over 15 years ago his grandmother  gave me a cookbook.  I didn't think I'd find it of much use.  I giggled when I look at it now because Hubster and I made a decision that since I couldn't cook that he was going to cook.  Well after a week of eating stir fry every evening I got my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book out and read up! Thus began my adventure in the kitchen!

Today I'm sharing with you some substitutions that I've found helpful!  Most of them are found in the back of that cookbook.  I go to it often!  

1 T. cornstarch = 2 T. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder = 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 cup sugar = 1 cup packed brown sugar or 2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs = 1/4 cup butter cracker crumbs or 1/4 cup cornflake crumbs

1 cup honey = 1 1/4 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid

1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate = 3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder plush 1 T. shortening or cooking oil

1 cup buttermilk = 1 T. lemon or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup (let it stand 5 minutes before using) (OR) 1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water

1 cup light cream = 1 T. melted butter plus enough milk to make 1 cup

2 cups tomato sauce = 3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water

1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water

1 medium onion = 1 T. onion powder

1 clove garlic = 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp dry mustard = 1 T. prepared mustard (like yellow mustard you'd serve with burgers)

February 8, 2010

Affiliates and Links....and introduction

I have several links around this blog. I have several other sites that are my favorites and some of them I am an affiliate of. By you clicking on the sites to order through my blog I earn a bit of a profit. Let me introduce them to you. (The names are highlighted in red but not linked -- visit the side margin for the links and buttons.)

A link for BigOven is over there. It's where I got the inspiration to begin this kitchen blog. I wanted to share my recipes and the wonderful computer program that allows me to make meal plans, and shopping lists with a few clicks of a button. Go check it out! Then click back here and go to "Buy Big Oven" near the top of the margin (above my FaceBook badge) to click over and buy it for yourself!

To help you get motivated with cleaning, cooking and organizing there's a button for Motivated Mom's. I talked about it more in this post.

If you're in the market for a cookbook I have some of my favorites posted in the link for Amazon. Or you can click through from my blog and order anything.

There's also a button link to Money Saving Mom. Every day Crystal posts wonderful ideas to save your family money. She lists the latest deals for grocery stores, printable coupons, how to coupon, and how to navigate your way around Walgreens and CVS to get the most bang for your buck! Her blog has helped me save our family hundreds and hundreds of dollars!

Also located over at the side bar is a button linking you to Baker Creek Seeds. Their catalog is full of non-GMO, heirloom seeds. There's something for everyone.

Go check out the links and buttons. Visit them and tell them Carmen from Old House Kitchen sent you!

Happy Clicking!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

I love The Pioneer Woman! I love The Pioneer Woman's recipes! Most of all I love The Pioneer Woman's Parmesan Crusted Chicken. It is to die for!! But...I must say it is NOT light on the calories! You might as well take a helping and slap it right on your thighs! I tried to find it posted on her site but I couldn't so here's my tweaked version...
Oh and...it's for our crew of 10 for two meals (I love leftovers! And this chicken is great in sandwiches the next day!)...you might want to cut the recipe in half or thirds! Or if you have BigOven  it'll do that for you!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

12 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I'm cheap so I used Kraft from the can -- got it nearly free with sale and coupons!)
4 Roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 T Italian herbs
1 T basil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2/3 tube of butter crackers, crushed into little bitty bits! (the rectangular kind that are mouthwatering good...yummy butter goodness!)
3 T Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt

The goal to cooking the chicken right is to have them the same size. You will want to cut each chicken breast into at least 3 separate equal sized pieces. Cut them on a slant not in three chunks...you want it to look pretty! :)

Place the chicken in 2 -- 9x13 baking dishes. In a bowl combine mayonnaise, parm. cheese, roma tomatoes, Italian herbs, basil, and cayenne pepper. Spread the mixture over the top of the chicken.

Mix the crumb ingredients and sprinkle over the chicken. Place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven and bake for 25-35 minutes until cooked through.

P.S. She has a cookbook out! (Check out the Amazon link in my side bar.)

February 6, 2010

Grandma Frays' Macaroni & Cheese

She was a cooking icon in our family. Grandma Frays made THE best macaroni and cheese. She also made the best Ham and Popeye (recipe to come--and no, it's not "pot pie", it's called "popeye"...you'll see!). She passed away almost 10 years ago. I loved Grandma like she was my own. She was, by marriage, but I always called her Grandma and loved her so much. I felt equally loved by her. She was one of my go-to gals for help when cooking. She giggled when I'd ask her the silliest cooking question but always followed it with good advice! Grandpa and Grandma and Nathan's aunt came out to Maryland to visit us one weekend. Grandma showed me how to make this wonderful macaroni and cheese. Since then I bring it to every family function. It's expected of me. I'd have to enroll in the witness protection program if I ever forgot to bring it! So without further adieu I give you...

Grandma Frays' Macaroni & Cheese

4 c. dry elbow macaroni (boil and cook 7 minutes)

2 c. shredded mild cheddar cheese (divided)

2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (divided)

1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. colby jack cheese

1/2 tube butter crackers (crushed)

1 can evaporated milk

1/2 - 1 can reg. milk (used the evap. milk can)

Place 1/2 macaroni in the bottom of a large baking dish (I use a 9x13 for this). Top with 1 c. mild cheddar, and 1 c. sharp cheddar. Sprinkle all of the crackers on top followed by all of the mozzarella cheese. Layer the rest of the macaroni and then the cheese on top. Sprinkle with colby jack cheese. Pour evap. milk over the top (Be careful...it'll splatter if it hits a noodle just right). Pour remaining milk over the top. I use 2% milk, you can use that or whole milk. Bake 375 degrees for 30 minutes. (Until the top is a little brown and bubbly.)

Note: The milk needs to reach about 1/2 way up the dish so all the noodles get some of the milk with them. I use a glass dish so I can see where it's at. Also, don't overcook the noodles before you assemble the dish. They need to absorb some of the milk for the best flavor.

February 5, 2010

Get Motivated in the Kitchen (and other rooms, too!)

I have found it! (Well, actually Kendra found it and I got the idea from her.) The perfect system...for me, anyway. Unless your name starts with 'M' and ends in 'artha' you probably need a little help staying organized and motivated. Motivated Moms has come up with close to the perfect solution! For only $8 you can be motivated for a whole entire year!! What you do is click on the red box down there on the right side of my blog and it'll take you to their page. You pay for the planner, download it, save it to your computer and print it out at your leisure. I use the top one, the 8.5" x 11" regular planner. I print out one month at a time and put it on my clipboard. I can NOT live without my clipboard! They also have other types which include appointment sections, Bible reading plans, etc. I got the same version last year and loved it! It's not just a place to write things you have to do, but it keeps you motivated with certain house chores for each day so that you don't have to spend the whole day cleaning and so that you don't have to remember to do things like check the furnace filter, refill the toilet paper in the bathroom, etc. They remind you! Wonderful!!! I love it! Now go on and click on that button and take a peek!

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

I found this recipe over at New Life on a Homestead. Sweetened Condensed Milk is very expensive so I thought this recipe was worth the post! Enjoy...

With a can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk going for around $2.50-$3.50 nowadays, you might want to consider this money saving substitute! Here is an easy way to make your own sweetened condensed milk, so that you can stretch your grocery budget a little farther!
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/8 cup powdered milk

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened, approx. 15-20 min. Continue stirring to avoid burning. A double-boiler may also be used to avoid burning.

Here is a “no cook” recipe for Eagle Brand milk substitute that I found at Everyday Food Storage that you might like to try as well:

1/2 C. hot water
1 C. Powdered Milk
1 C. Sugar
1 T. Butter

Blend in blender very well. Can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen.

There are actually several recipes for this out there, some using evaporated milk instead of powdered. If none of mine work for you, keep looking! You’ll never have to buy one of those expensive little cans again!

February 4, 2010

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits...Amish Style

Even though my family is large --huge by some standards-- we're still not Amish "size". Our Amish neighbors have 11 children! I thought I worked hard cooking for our crowd! They have 11 and some of them are big, strappin' boys! I have a few Amish Country cookbooks that I just love. Flipping through them gives me a glimpse into her life and an appreciation for cooking for a large crowd. From a few of these books I've found (and scaled down, believe it or not!) a great recipe for sausage gravy and homemade biscuits. Hubby loves these biscuits! He's a biscuit snob, so they must be good!

Sausage Gravy

1 lb. sausage

3/4 cup flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

4 1/2 cups milk

Brown and crumble sausage (don't drain it). Add flour, salt and pepper and stir. If the sausage is dry, you may need to add a bit of shortening when adding flour. Add milk while stirring. Heat until it starts to boil and reduce heat and continue to stir until thickened. Makes about 5 cups of gravy.

Homemade Biscuits

4 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

8 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cream of tartar

4 tsp. sugar

1 cup shortening

1 1/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add milk all at once and stir until dough follows fork around bowl. Roll 1/2 thick.* Use a large glass or a canning jar to cut biscuits. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 30 biscuits.

*Note: The key to light and fluffy biscuits is not to work the dough too much.

February 3, 2010

Turkey (or chicken) Rice Soup

Left over chicken or turkey, watch out!  You are about to be served...literally!  Are you ready for one easy peasy recipe??  Hold on to your apron because here we goooo!

Turkey Rice Soup

16 cups turkey or chicken stock *

3-4 cups chopped turkey (or chicken)

4 carrots, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups brown rice (uncooked)

1/2 cup dried parsley

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

a sprinkling of rosemary 

a sprinkling of thyme  

Combine ingredients in a very large crock pot (I use a 6.5 Qt.) and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6.

*If I don't have stock on hand I'll use a few cans of chicken broth and then either chicken bouillon granules (follow the directions on the jar for adequate measurement) or chicken base (usually 1 tsp. per 1 cup of hot water) to make up the difference.  Chicken base comes in a jar, is thick and creamy in texture and is cheaper per ounce than bouillon granules.  I'm not a big fan of the cubes.  All that unwrapping puts a cramp on my cooking time.  The downside is that the chicken base makes a greasier soup.

February 2, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday -- How to Cook a Chicken (or Turkey)

For years when we were first married I would buy the flash frozen bags of chicken breasts from the store.  I though it was the best option for me.  It wasn't too costly and I didn't have to touch raw, slimy chicken, right?  Well it is costly compared to buying a whole chicken on sale (or on clearance if you watch the meat section) .  I think also think flash frozen is a bit on the salty side.  I've grown to not mind the slimy-ness of preparing chicken in exchange for the better flavor and saving my family a little bit of money.  How long do those flash frozen chicken breasts sit at the store, anyway?  I digress...

Buy a chicken, no...buy two or three, especially if they're on sale!  Either put them in a large electric roaster or cook them in various crock pots.  If you're choosing to roast them it'll take about 4-5 hours.  I love my Rival RO188BR 18-Quart Roaster W Bonus.  I roasted two 14 pound turkeys in it the other day and I can easily roast 3 average size chickens.  If you choose to cook it in the crock pot you can put them in at night on low, shut it off in the morning and by lunch time it'll be cool enough to handle.  Take it apart, chop it up or shred it and package it up for the freezer.  To season them just sprinkle a little ground black pepper, some onion powder (unless you like real onion...the hubster doesn't), and I add a smidge of sage, thyme (or rosemary) and a sprinkle or two of lemon juice (I leave the lemons out if it's turkey I'm cooking).  I really dislike de-yucking (as we call it) the chicken.  I'm fortunate enough to have a mom who lives with us and doesn't mind that part.  Having her to help me do that is great!  If you have little helpers around they might enjoy it as well.  We have lots of little helpers but I find they eat more than they package if they are helping!  Simply take the large breast portions out and then work on the legs, thighs and back.  And if your birdies came with giblets or liver then you can cook that up, chop it and make gravy with the juices from the cooked bird(s).   

You'll get a lot of chicken (or turkey) out of that little cooking session.  The pair of 14 pound turkeys I roasted the other day yielded enough for dinner twice (approx. 3 pounds), sandwiches for lunch three times (approx. 2 pounds), meat for a double portion of Turkey & Rice Soup (I'll post the recipe soon!), and I have 6 more 2 pound bags of meat in the freezer ready to go.  Not too shabby!  Especially since Wallyworld had them on sale for 40 cents per pound back before the holidays!  

If you don't want to buy a whole bird you can go the boneless, skinless route.  If I find boneless, skinless (or tenderloins) on sale I'll put a bunch of them in the crock pot at night.  Add just enough water to cover and then the same seasonings above.  Cook them on low, turn them off in the morning and by lunch time you'll be ready to cut up and package the meat.  (You can wait until the kiddos are taking their afternoon nap.  Just shut it off an hour or so later or put your crock pot on a "keep warm" setting.)  The only drawback to the boneless skinless is there is no good quality stock (broth) left over for soups, etc.  Yes, you get water and some juice, but it's not the same.

I try to do this about once a month when meat is on sale.  Since it's not the most enjoyable part of my kitchen time it is nice to get it over with all at once!

Now go find some little birdies and cook away!  

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