Friday, November 26, 2010

Crockpot Pizza

Another nursing student & friend, Miss Anita :), mentioned to me that her family loved Crockpot Pizza.  She couldn't believe I had never heard of this. She briefly told me what went into her recipe & I found this similar recipe online. Toby LOVED this & said it was one of the better "new" recipes I've made in a long, long time. Enjoy! 

Crockpot Pizza

1-1/2 lbs. hamburger
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cans spaghetti sauce
2/3 pkg. rigatoni pasta, uncooked
3 lbs. mozzarella cheese
olives, peppers, mushrooms - optional

Brown hamburger & onion together and drain. Mix in sauce.  Make alternate layers in crock pot, starting with meat sauce, noodles, pepperoni, olives, peppers, & mushrooms (if using) & cheese.  Ending with a cheese layer on top.

Cook on low for 5 hours.

***I would recommend leaving off the top layer of cheese & adding it about 30 min-1 hr before it's done.  Otherwise the top layer of cheese starts to burn around the edges. 

Mom's Ham Glaze

My mom's a good cook.  Her's is the first kitchen I stood in & the first recipes I learned to make.  So saying that I have a great recipe from my mom is kind of no big deal.  However, with this ham glaze recipe she completely outdid herself. It's nothing for mom to make 4 or 5 or more hams during the holiday season because of special requests for her incredible hams. This recipe results in the greatest ham you will ever sink your teeth into.  Not to mention, the phenomenal smell in your house as it bakes.  The smell of this ham has become one of my family's favorite holiday smells.   

Mom's Ham Glaze

Before baking

After baked...

Brown sugar - approx. 1 cup
Pineapple juice (off pineapple slices) - enough to make a sauce with a brown sugar
1 tsp. cherry juice (off maraschino cherries)
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Combine all the above ingredients. Lay ham in pan with aluminum foil under it (enough to wrap and seal it).  Score ham lightly, lay pineapple
rings & cherries on top of ham (for decoration ... and because, according to Toby, they are super yummy after the ham is baked :)

Pour the above mixture over the ham.  Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pan (do not pour it over the ham). Seal aluminum foil over ham. 

Bake at 300 for at least 4 hours (I sometimes bake mine for 5-6 hours depending on the size of the ham).

Note: The above measurements are for enough glaze to glaze a 6-9 pound ham & all the measurements are approx. Use more or less for larger/smaller hams & to taste. 

Also of note:  We always use Kentucky Legend Hams.  These are our families favorite.  I've made other brands with this glaze & it's still good, but it's not the same. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cris's Aunt Mary's Pork Mary-nade

One last pork recipe for Cousin Molly...
This one comes from my gal-pal, Cris, but I've made it myself so I can attest to it's greatness. I've made these on the grill & in the oven. Both turned out super yummy!

Click this link to take you to the recipe over at Goodeness Gracious:

Aloha Pizza

I first had this recipe at a friend's Pampered Chef party.  It is a Pampered Chef recipe, originally, but I'm going to give you the simple cook version ('cause this gal isn't going to stand & hand grate her cheese or mess with chopping up a fresh pineapple :) 

Aloha Chicken

2 green onions with tops (optional - I didn't use these), chopped
2 packages (13.8 oz. ea.) refrigerated pizza crust - I only used 1 package & it fit my large bar pan just fine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed (we had the pressed garlic at the party, but I just sprinkled garlic powder on my crust & it tasted the same to me)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided
2 cups (8 oz) mozarella cheese, shredded (or grated if you're ambitious)
2 cups diced cooked chicken (I used the frozen, pre-cooked strips, just defrosted them & chopped them up into cubes)
1 medium pineapple (I used 2 cups of canned pineapple tidbits, drained well)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped.

Preheat oven to 400.  
Unroll pizza crust & place in bottom of large bar pan.
Place into oven for approx. 10 min. (This will help the pizza dough finish cooking without over cooking the toppings)

Remove pan from oven & add the following:
Combine the olive oil & garlic (if using fresh) & brush onto pizza crust  OR brush olive oil onto pizza crust & then sprinkle with garlic powder

Spread half of the BBQ sauce over pizza

Sprinkle cheese & chicken onto pizza

Put back into oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown

Remove from oven & add chopped red pepper, pineapple

Put the remaining BBQ sauce in a small baggie & cut tip off the end.  Use this to drizzle BBQ sauce across entire pizza.

If using chopped green onions, add them last. 

I have to say, I HATE pineapple on pizza and yet, I LOVE this pizza.  I think it must have to do with the fact it has BBQ sauce instead of a tomato based sauce. I'm not sure. All I know is it is awesome! 

Pork Chops in Gravy

This is one of my all-time favorite pork recipes.  I'm not a real big fan of pork chops, but these are DELICIOUS. You can cut them with a fork & they melt in your mouth.

Pork Chops in Gravy

1 egg
2 Tbsp water
8 pork loin chops (1/2" thick)
3/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs (I always use flavored croutons crushed up for this)
2 Tbsp. veg. oil
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10-1/2 oz.) condensed French Onion Soup, undiluted
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In a shallow bowl, beat egg & water.  Dip pork chops in egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs.  In a large skillet, brown chops in oil.  Transfer to a greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Combine soups; pour over chops.  Sprinkle with cheese. Cover & bake @ 325 for 1.5 hours or until meat is tender. 

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Chili Chops

Chili Chops

4 pork loin chops, 1/2" thick
4 onion slices
4 green pepper slices, 1/4" thick
1 bottle of chili sauce

Place the pork chops in a greased 9" square baking dish
top with onions, green peppers & chili sauce.
Cover & bake for 20-30 min @ 350 (or until meat juices run clear)

Sweet & Sour Pork

The next 3 recipes are some of our family's favorite pork recipes for Cousin Molly.  As with the other picture-less posts, I'll try & remember to get pics the next time I fix these. 

Sweet & Sour Pork

4-6 thick pork chops
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. chili sauce
1/4 c. honey

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix honey, soy & chili sauce.

Place pork chops in greased 3 qt. casserole dish.  Pour sauces over chops.  
Bake for 1 hour. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

5-Can Soup

This super simple soup is on the menu this week.  I'll do my best to try & remember to take a picture when I make it.  This recipe is just a small piece of paper torn from a cookbook so I have no idea where it came from. It is a Weight Watcher's friendly recipe having only 2 pts per 1 cup of soup.  Most shocking to me was how filling it was.

5-Can Soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can minestone soup
1 can mixed veggies (you can use frozen if you want)
1 can of black beans (or you can use whatever kind of beans you have on hand)

Mix all together in a pot, heat & serve.

How simple is that!?!?!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Menu Planning

When I started school, it immediately became apparent that meal time was going to be a challenge.  First off, 2 nights a week my schedule has me getting home at times that mean Liv has to either start supper or be solely responsible for getting dinner on the table.  Secondly, deciding what to fix, what to have on hand & what to buy at the store was consuming a lot of my extra time (which I have precious little of). 

So, I decided to sit down & make out 6 weeks worth of menus.  I added a section for helping Liv know what she needed to do each night. I added in all our favorites & tried to use one crockpot recipe & one soup recipe each week to keep it mixed up.  All together it took me 2-3 hours to come up with 6 weeks of menus.  

Obviously, the stress of "what am I gonna fix when I get home" disappeared. However, interestingly, a couple of benefits came from this that I hadn't expected.  

1).  Getting my grocery list together became extremely easy.

and 2). My grocery bill decreased significantly. 

Now, when it's time to get my grocery list together, I go to the kitchen, get next week's menu, pull out any needed recipes for that week, check the cabinet/freezer for what we already & add what we need to my list.  Add on the usual milk, cereal, etc. and my grocery list making is done. (These other add-ons are actually kept as a running list on a recently acquired white board in our kitchen - thanks Chad & Sheena! - so all I have to do is copy them over to my paper list, erase the board, & we're ready to start another week! )

Another benefit, is that I'm realizing that we have enough left overs during the week that I'm usually having one extra meal each week left unmade.  I either make the meal on the weekend or I put the perishable ingredients in the freezer & plan on using it for a 7th week menu comprised of "left over" meal ideas from weeks 1-6.

It was time consuming to make the menus, but it's been well worth it. I would highly recommend trying this to any family that's busy, wants to save $$$ on their grocery bill or is just sick of the "what's for dinner" stress every day. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Country Brunch Skillet

This recipe comes from the very 1st issue of Quick Cooking magazine.  I made it years ago but had since lost/forgotten about it. I found the magazine a couple weeks back & decided I needed to make it again. It's a delicious & filling breakfast & a nice change from the usual pancakes or eggs & bacon. 

This morning's breakfast :) 

Country  Brunch Skillet

**The recipe calls for cooking bacon & crumbling, but I just used real bacon, bacon bits.  If you use bacon bits, add a few tablespoons of veg. oil to your pan before putting the hash browns in so they don't stick :) **

6 bacon strips (or real bacon, bacon bits)
6 cups of frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
3/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon; crumble & set aside.  Drain, reserving 2 TBSP of drippings. 


If using bacon bits, heat 3-4 TBSP of veg. oil in pan & proceed to next step

Add potatoes, green pepper, onion, salt & pepper to drippings or oil. 

Cook & stir for 2 minutes. 

Cover & cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are browned & tender, about 15 minutes.

(Pic from Taste of Home website)
Make six wells in the potato mixture; break one egg into each well.

Cover & cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes or until eggs are completely set.  

Sprinkle with cheese & bacon. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nacho Soup

I came across this recipe in an old magazine I had.  Nacho Soup is soup-er easy to make & tastes soup-er great! :)  (You can thank Toby for all those bad puns :)

Nacho Soup

1 package (5-1/4 oz) au gratin potatoes
1 can (11 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes & green chilies, undrained
2 cups of water
2 cups of milk
2 cups cubed processed American cheese
dash hot pepper sauce, optional
minced fresh parsley, optional

In a 3-qt saucepan, combine the potatoes and sauce mix, corn, tomatoes and water; mix well.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 15-18 min. or until potatoes are tender. Add milk, cheese and hot pepper sauce if desired; cook & stir until the cheese is melted.  Garnish with parsley if desired.

**I didn't use the hot pepper sauce & I didn't have any fresh parsley on hand so that got left out as well.  It still was spicy & really tasty. This is an easy to make and inexpensive supper.  I made some grilled cheese sandwiches to go with ours.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemade Cleaners

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Mary Hunt's Cheapskate Newsletter or that I', we'll say. Toby & Liv love to tease me when I say, "Oh wait!  I have a coupon for that."  Truth be told, though, I'm not ashamed of being considered cheap.  My "cheapness" has allowed me to be a SAHM for many years, attend college & still allow us to do a few things we want to do along the way. So it's served me (& us) well. 

When I first was introduced to homemade cleaners, I was drawn in by the lure of cleaning without harsh chemicals & ingredients I couldn't pronounce. Mine & Liv's asthma required we clean with something besides store bought cleaners & I recently read an article a friend posted about new studies linking breast cancer to household cleaners.  Health reasons were the 1st reasons I got into homemade cleaners. Since then I have realized the cost benefit as well.  

A quick internet search will net you thousands of homemade cleaner recipes.  The ones I'm going to include on this blog are the ones I personally use & can attest to their ability to do just as good a job as the brand name cleaners sold at the store.

Let me preface this blog by saying that I am a HUGE fan of vinegar so you're going to see the word "vinegar" a lot. Vinegar is one of those things that has about a million & one uses &, although it stinks while you're using it, will not leave an odor in your house.  It also does not seem to bother mine or Liv's respiratory systems. 

I mop with a strong vinegar & water mixture & I recently used vinegar to clean our carpets (put it in the carpet cleaner instead of carpet cleaning solution) & it worked fantastic! 

Side note:  Vinegar is vinegar.  I buy the cheapest (which is generally Kroger brand at my local Rulers).

My other household favorite is:  Original Blue Dawn.

My all-purpose, go-to cleaner is a mixture of Dawn & vinegar.  Now some people cut this mixture with water or use different measurements of each.  What I use works so I'm not going to tweek what works.  Feel free to tweek away if you want (& let me know how it goes if you do :) 

Take a spray bottle.  Fill it 1/4 of the way with Dawn, fill the other 3/4 with vinegar.  Put the nozzle back on & shake.  

I originally made this mixture for cleaning the showers & tubs.  (A job I absolutely loathe doing & one which I'd never found a cleaner that would really do a good job without a lot of elbow grease).  

This mixture not only does a fantastic job, it requires little scrubbing. I also use it on the sinks & toilets.  It works great for cleaning counter tops in the kitchen as well.  

I spray it on the shower/tub, toilet, & sink & let it sit for a few minutes.  Then come back & wash everything down, rinse, & I'm done.  One of the greatest things about this mixture (besides it's lack of requiring massive amounts of scrubbing) is that it retards mold & mildew growth. I've been amazed at how well it fights off nasty mold & mildew in the bathroom & even on the shower curtains/doors.

Glass/Mirror cleaner:

1 c. alcohol
1 c. water
1 Tablespoon vinegar

Mix these together in a spray bottle & you have a great window, mirror & glass cleaner that doesn't streak. 

Homemade Laundry Soap

There are nearly as many homemade laundry soap recipes out there as homemade cleaner websites.  The following was given to me by my friend, Allison & is used by many people I know. (According to a friend who uses it in her HE washer & several other sources I've read, it is safe for use in HE washing machines too.  It doesn't create suds.)

It is super easy to make, is a GREAT stain remover (it actually took out stains that had been in a couple of items for many washings & dryings!) & is VERY cheap to make.

I've also heard that it has been recommended by an asthma doctor for his patients because it is great for people with allergies & asthma.  So that's another plus!

12 cups Borax
8 cups baking soda
8 cups washing soda
8 cups Fels Naptha (finely grated)
(*Note:  1 bar of Fels Naptha = approx. 2 cups grated)

It's important to get the Fels Naptha grated very finely so it can dissolve quickly in the wash water.  I recently used my food processor to grate mine.  (I grated it with the grater attachment & then ran it through the chopping process).  Since it's just soap, it didn't hurt anything & the food processor & attachments washed up just fine. 

To use:  add approx. 2 Tbsp to washer

One other thing I've noticed with this soap: I don't really have much need for fabric softener or dryer sheets.  The clothes are soft, smell good (without smelling "flowery"), and have little to no static after being dried.  

I didn't make the full batch above, but I bought enough to make about 3/4 of the above batch. I didn't figure it up exactly, but the ingredients cost me less than $10 & I will end up getting probably about 1-1/2 - 2 months worth of washing out of 3/4 batch. Considering I use to buy at least 1 of the big bottles of Tide per month, plus a bottle of Downey & at least 1-2 boxes of Bounce....I'd say the savings is pretty obvious :) 

Grease Stain Remover:

The best thing I have found to remove grease stains from clothes:  Plain ol' Original Dawn.  

Yep, I've even had it take out old grease stains that had been washed, dried & were set-in.  (Obviously, it's much easier if you catch it before you wash it, but I'm notorious for forgetting & washing stained clothes...)

Simply put full strength Dawn on the grease stains, allow to sit & soak into the fabric (I usually let mine sit at least overnight) & wash.  This almost always works.  I've only had a couple of REALLY bad grease stains that wouldn't come completely out with this method. 

This is my most commonly used cleaners.  I have some recipes for homemade drain cleaners that I am going to put to the test next week on a slow draining bathroom sink.  I'll try & remember to post if I find a good recipe :) 

In the meantime, Happy Homemade Cleaning!!! 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Canning How-Tos

A few years ago I spent several days with my Grandma Patton (one of Liv's great-grandmas) learning how to can.  While it was old hat to her, it was all new to me so I wrote down everything we did step-by-step.  Since I've heard a lot of people mention canning recently, I thought that now might be a great time to add these to Mom's Kitchen.

Freezing Corn

1.) Shuck, de-silk (is that even a word), & wash the ears
2.) Cut the corn off the cob but don't get super close to the cob. 
I have heard that this product is AWESOME for this job, but haven't tried it myself yet: 

(Kernel Cutter from Pampered Chef, $7.50)

3.) Scrape cob if you want creamed corn, otherwise use just the kernels you cut off.
4.) Add salt...we used 1 tsp (measured using an actual spoon not a measuring spoon) per dozen ears ???  (I'm not sure about this.  We used 1 tsp. per kettle we made but I'm not sure how much went in one kettle).
5.) Put on the stove or in the microwave & bring just to a boil - DO NOT boil for an extended amount of time.
6.) Remove from heat & allow to cool
7.) Place in baggies & freeze

Guide:  10 dozen ears = approx. 10 FULL quart baggies. 

Canning Green Beans

We tried canning green beans in a pressure cooker, but found that by the time you wait on the pressure to come up, wait for the allotted cook time, & wait on the pressure to go down, it's just as quick to do them in the canner the old-fashioned way.  So I'll put the directions for both here, but we use the canner (not the pressure cooker) when we do can them.

Canner method:

Break beans & wash.
Put them in jars.  Really stuff them in there or you'll wind up with only half full jars.
Add a tsp of salt to each jar - again using a regular spoon not a measuring spoon
Heat canning lids by placing in a pan of hot water for a few minutes
Fill the jars with water
Place lid & ring on each jar & tighten
Place the jars in the canner
Cover the jars up to the rims with water.
Bring to a boil.  This can take an hour.
Boil for 3 hours.
Remove carefully.
Listen for pops to know the jars have sealed.


Pressure cooker method:
(These are based on the instructions that came with our pressure cooker - ALWAYS read the instructions that come with yours & follow YOURS if they differ from these)

Break & wash beans
Fill jars (again - make sure you get them good & full)
Add tsp. salt (using a regular spoon)
Heat lids in hot water
Fill jars with BOILING water
Add lid & ring & seal
Put jars in cooker
*Here's where you need to follow YOUR instructions. In our directions, we had to cook them at 10 psi for 25 minutes.  But there was also some venting & waiting on the valve to come to a hard rock as well...I just don't remember all of the exact steps.  I do know it ended up taking us longer than the canner method & so we never went back to the pressure cooking method. 

Canning Tomatoes

Our family cans tomatoes in 3 forms - cold packed, open-kettled, & as juice.  Cold packed are great if you like to eat them from the can, open-kettled are fantastic for use in soups, chillis, etc, & of course juice is good for adding to soups, drinking, etc.  In our household we use almost exclusively open-kettled tomatoes.

In most cases, you'll need to scald & peel the tomatoes first.
Put the stopper in your sink & load the sink up with tomatoes
Pour boiling water over the tomatoes.
Allow them to set until the jackets start splitting. 
Run some cold water in the sink over the tomatoes.
Rinse with cold water & peel.

Open-kettled tomatoes:
Use the above scalding method to peel tomatoes.
Chop tomatoes into large pieces.
Place in a kettle on the stove-top.
Bring the tomatoes to a boil.
CAREFULLY dip the hot tomatoes into jars.  
Add a tsp. of salt (with regular spoon) to each jar 
Add lid (which has been heated in hot water), ring & seal. 
Listen for the pops as they seal & remember not to tap the lids :) 

Scald tomatoes as mentioned above
Place tomatoes (mostly whole) in jars
Add tsp. salt (you know by now...use a regular spoon) to each jar
Put in the canner
Add water to the rims
Cook for 20 minutes after water comes to a boil.
Allow to cool & listen for the pops that mean they're sealing

Tomato Juice:
Chop up tomatoes & put on the stove to cook (no need to peel, but you may have to add a little water to the pan so they don't burn).  Allow the tomatoes to come to a boil.  Put in a blender & blend until liquid-y.  Run through a sieve to remove seeds, skins, etc.  Put tomato juice back on the stove & heat to a boil again. Allow to boil for a few minutes.  Take off the stove & fill jars.  Adding a tsp. of salt to each quart. Put heated lid & a ring on jar & seal.  Listen for the pops that tell your jars have sealed :) 

One side note:  A lot of people will say that the tomatoes won't keep without the hot water bath canning process.  We've been making juice & open-kettling tomatoes for years & very seldom do we have a jar go bad.  Granted, we usually use up our supply each year so maybe if you plan on keeping them for 10 years you should use the hot water bath method.  If you're using the cold-packed method you will have to use the hot water bath method or a pressure cooker. 

Happy Canning!!!! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Microwave Corn-on-the-cob

I thought I got this idea from Cris over at Goodeness Gracious, but searched her blog over & couldn't find the directions.  Then I thought maybe it came from Life As A Mom or Money Saving Mom, but couldn't find it there either. SO, if it came from you & I'm not giving you credit, then please accept my apology in advance.  I swear I'm not stealing your idea, it's just my memory must be going...haha! 

Anyway, WHOEVER gave me this idea is a genius!  The worst part of corn-on-the-cob for me is the waiting on the water to boil part.  This technique completely eliminates that issue as well as doesn't require the use of a big kitchen pot. 

Microwave Corn-on-the-Cob

Place ears of corn in microwave still in their husks on top of a dampened paper towel. I'd recommend keeping the ears in a single layer (not making a pyramid in the microwave).

(For my family of 3 I started with 3 ears which fit perfectly in my microwave.)

I microwave my 3 ears for 3 minutes, flip the ears over, & cook for another 3 minutes. You'll have to adjust the time for your # of ears, but on average I think about 1 min. per ear & then flip & go 1 min. per ear again seems a reasonable place to start. 
Although I did read where someone put there's in for like 5+ min. & caught the corn silks on you might want to keep an eye on it until you get your timing perfected ;)

CAREFULLY remove ears.  (They will be SUPER hot to the touch).  I let mine lay for a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle.  Then shuck the ears in the sink so the mess is contained & serve.  The silks & shucks will pull away easily & you can cut off the ends of the ear if you want/need to. After your meal the husks & silk are cooled & I just through the mess into the trash & clean up my sink.

The ears can be left in the husks & wrapped in a clean towel or aluminum foil or shucked & wrapped in aluminum foil to keep them warm while you make more or you can shuck & eat them immediately.

This method keeps the moisture in the corn &, I think, produces much better corn on the cob than the old fashion boiling pot method. 


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Polish Cheese Potatoes

This is another recipe out of the cookbook my Grandma Patton gave me.  I was looking for something inexpensive, easy & different from what we'd been eating when I happened across this recipe. It fit all 3 requirements & has become a family favorite. 

Polish Cheese Potatoes

8 square hashbrowns
2-4 polish sausage links (I usually use 2, but the recipe called for 4 so it really depends on your family's tastes).

1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, diced (I often leave this out since I've got some sensitive stomachs in the household & the onion AND sausage can be a bit overpowering.)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese

Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.
Lay out the 8 square hashbrowns in the bottom of the pan
Cut up the polish sausage into small pieces & put on top of the hashbrowns
Pour the soup mixture over sausage & hashbrowns

Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese (or more if you like) on top.
Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

Crock Pot Beef Manhattan

Beef Manhattan has ALWAYS been a favorite of mine.  I came across this recipe in a cookbook my Grandma Patton gave me.  It has been an instant hit at our house & even Miss Liv (who is not a big meat eater) really likes beef fixed like this.

Crock Pot Beef Manhattan

2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
2 cans of cream of celery soup
2 cans of french onion soup
1 pkg of stewing beef (I use around 3# for this recipe)

Put everything in the crock pot & let cook all day.

Serve over bread & mashed potatoes. 

Best Baked Beans

It's funny how we can grow up loving a food & then one day decide we want to fix that food & have no recipe for it.  That's where I was with baked beans.  I LOVE baked beans (well any bean really) and a year or so ago I thought I'd make some for a BBQ we were having.  I went to digging through my recipes only to realize I didn't have a baked bean recipe.  Enter the internet (which has been this cook's saving grace more than once).  I started searching for a recipe that wasn't fancy, was easy to make, but tasted like the homemade baked beans I remembered eating.

I found this recipe on  As with most recipes I find, I did a little tweeking.  The result was some awesome baked beans.  I always get compliments on this recipe & even Toby (who despises all things bean) really likes these.  

Best Baked Beans

1 (28 oz) can of baked beans - I always use Bush's original baked beans for this recipe

1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces

8 oz. brown sugar

chopped onion to suit your family's taste (can be completely omitted if you want)

Preheat oven to 400

Pour beans into a 2 qt casserole dish

Place bacon in a skillet, completely covering bottom of pan. Spread brown sugar over bacon & cook over medium heat. Add onions to this mixture if you are using them. When bacon grease starts bubbling up through the sugar, transfer to the casserole dish & mix with beans.

Bake for 45 min.

Serves 5.

Did you see that?

"Serves 5".  
How many of you have a big BBQ for 5 or less people at a time?  Around here the answer is VERY seldom.  Unfortunately, this recipe doesn't multiple well by just taking the ingredients times the number of batches you want to make. (Yes, that's the voice of experience talking :) The bacon becomes an issue.  You end up with WAY too much bacon & WAY too much grease.  

So for a triple or quadruple batch (which will easily feed 20-25 people), here's what I do:

I use 4 or 5 cans of Bush's Original Baked Beans (28 oz).
12-16 oz of bacon (I use Oscar Meyer Center Cut because it has less fat which means less grease)
32 oz. of brown sugar (Yeah, you read that right.  I never said they were healthy baked beans :)
3/4- 1 cup of chopped onion

I prepare it as instructed above, but rather than heating up the kitchen to bake them, I throw it all in the crock pot and cook on low-med. for 4 or 5 hours. Of course, if you're in a time crunch you can always bake them as instructed above. 

Sunday Chicken & Stuffing

My goal at the beginning of this project was to post at least once a month.  Although, I think I've managed to do that, I had hoped to post more often, but I've been so busy enjoying real life with the gal that this blog was created for, Miss Liv, that I've kind of let my blog commitment slide. So, I thought I'd take a little time today & post 3 or 4 recipes that our family likes.  I don't have pics for all of them, but as I make them again I'll try & remember to take pics & come back later to post them. In the meantime...ENJOY :) 

Sunday Chicken & Stuffing

I found this recipe in Quick Cooking magazine back in 1999.  It had actually been sent in by a fellow Hoosier :) The recipe is super simple & yet it tastes like you've worked for hours on it. 

1 package (6oz) of instant chicken stuffing mix
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/3 cup milk
1 TBSP dried parsley

Prepare stuffing according to package directions; spoon down the center of a greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish. 

Place chicken around stuffing.  Combine milk, soup, & parsley; pour over chicken.

Cover & bake @ 400 for 20 minutes.  Uncover & bake 10-15 min. longer or until chicken juices run clear. 

Serves 4-6. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nacho Chicken

Tonight's blog will be brought you in the style of Ms. Cris and let me tell you,  I now have a new appreciation for her blogs about recipes.  It's not that easy to cook & take pictures at the same time! :) 

I found this recipe several years ago in a magazine called Quick Cooking.  (The magazine is technically still around, but it's called something different now & not near as good as the original.)  In our house no one mentions Nacho Chicken without someone saying, "It's not your chicken" (say it real fast with a slight Spanish accent & you'll get it ;) It's became a running joke & when any of us mentions Nacho Chicken we automatically wait to see who says it 1st - LOL!  

This recipe is super simple to make and can be adjusted to suit your family's "spicy/hot" meter by simply adding the mild, original or hot tomatoes & green chiles.  Personally, I left out the onion because with the green chiles it is just too strong for us.  But I've had it with the onion & it's good that way too (if your broods' bellies can handle it). 

The ingredients are fairly simple:

(I would like to say that I normally use the Kroger brand of cream of chicken soup, but they were out of stock.  Since that is also Kroger "velveeta", this is an almost entirely "Ruler/Kroger" meal making it VERY affordable.  If Kroger feels compelled to give me free groceries for my numerous shout-outs & continued loyalty to them...well, call me Mr. Kroger rep :) 

In a large bowl combine: 

4 cups of cooked cubed chicken 

(I used 4 cans of cooked chicken - 1 is hiding in the above pic - but if you are one to freeze ahead like the Freezer Queen, Ms. Cris :), you could definitely use some you already had cooked up or just cook some up that you buy at the store.  Me:  I'm all about easy & I didn't have any frozen to use :) 

1 pound of processed American cheese, cubed

2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz. ea.), undiluted
1 can (10 oz.) tomatoes & green chiles, UNdrained
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp of pepper

1 bag (12-15 oz.) nacho cheese tortilla chips, crushed
(Reserve 1 cup of crushed chips)

Mix everything together & place in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.
Sprinkle with reserved chips.

Cook uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted & edges are bubbly. 

And, there you have it!  Nacho Chicken...
I serve it with some kind of vegetable (whatever I have on hand) & we always get at least 2-3 meals out of the dish.