Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Easy Peasy Homemade Croutons

Last week a friend of mine shared with me some croutons and they were amazing.  As I asked her about them she simple stated how she had made them herself.  Her daughter and I ended up finishing them up just as a snack, they were that good.  So she inspired me to make some of my own.  They were so easy, cheap to make and the greatest fact they are so delicious!!  I will not buy croutons from the store.  You can adjust them flavor to whatever you want.
Easy Peasy Homemade Croutons 
This is a basic recipe. Use the seasonings and oils that you love.

1 loaf day or older bread (I found a bag of sliced bagette in the day old section at the store bakery department).
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
seasoning salt

Mix up your oils and seasonings.  Let sit for a few minutes so the flavors can mix a bit.
Dice up your bread.
As you can see it was quite a large bowl of diced bread.
Pour the oil seasoning mixture over the bread and stir to coat.  Add more oil or seasoning if needed.
Pour on to a cookie sheet. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the bread is crisp and golden brown.  Stir a few times during baking cycle.
Remove from cookie sheet.  When croutons have cooled store in an air tight container.
So EASY and Delicious!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Easy Beat the Heat Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

With the impending heat wave we have been having I have not wanted to cook at all.   It has been so hot in my house that my normally very solid coconut oil is now a very liquid form. Turning on the oven makes me cringe. I decided I needed to cook my family something good for the 4th of July.  This was incredible and so simple!  I put them in the crockpot in the morning and only had to turn the oven on for 10 minutes.  They were so tender and delicious.

Easy Beat the Heat Crock Pot BBQ Ribs
inspired by Everyday Savvy
1 rack of baby back ribs
1 can pop (I used Dr. Pepper)
1 bottle barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
salt and pepper

Season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper.  Wrap the rack of ribs around your crock pot.  Pour can of pop over the ribs and then add the liquid smoke if you want.  Put on the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil.  Carefully take rack of ribs out of the crock pot and place on the cookie sheet.  Cover with barbecue sauce.  Broil on high for 10-15 minutes until the sauce starts to caramelize (get sticky looking).  Remove from oven and enjoy!!
If you have time make Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce. It is really good on ribs!
I used two racks of ribs and the same measurements of ingredients and they turned out perfectly.

Total deliciousness!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sausage Alfredo Bake

This is one of those meals that you are thinking "WOW this is so good the leftovers will be so good for lunch tomorrow.."  Only to be disappointed when your family eats the entire thing in one sitting.  Ok actually that is a good thing because either I starved them to death beforehand or the dish was amazing!!  We all know in this case it was the later.  It was a winner!!  Unfortunately they ate it so fast I did not get good pictures, so you will have to trust me on this one.  It is delicious!!

Sausage Alfredo Bake
Inspired by Let's Dish

16 ounces dry pasta (You can use any type I opted for penne)
 3 tablespoons butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onions

3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (12 oz) fully cooked smoked sausage, any variety
1/2 cup peas (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain.
While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a medium sauce pan.  Add garlic and onions and cook about 5 minutes or until the start to get translucent. Stir in the flour.  
Add the chicken broth and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the half and half.  Add the salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella until the cheeses are melted and smooth.  
Slice the sausage.  I then halved the slices.  Add the sausage, pasta and peas (if desired) to the sauce.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Top with the additional cup of mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it is bubbly and golden.

*I cut up my sausage, cooked my pasta and shredded my cheese in advance.  This made it pretty quick to put together for the dinner rush.  I think it would be good with other meats also.

This is a keeper!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A "Simply" Easy Teacher Appreciation Gift

I am a little slow on this one, but hopefully it will be of help to someone in the future.
I was short on time and ideas so my daughter and I walked through the store looking for something to get the creative brain waves going.  Then we came across this item and ....BOOM!  We hit the jackpot!!

Cute, easy and cost effective.  
Her teacher's loved it.
If you want to use the tag you should be able to right click, copy and paste into a document.
I'm thinking it would of been very cute if I would of had my daughter sign her own name to make it more personal.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sausage Pancake Muffins

As I have told you all before I am not a morning person, and everyone leaves the house at different times, which makes the whole breakfast thing very challenging.  I try hard to provide nutritious things my kids can fix for themselves for breakfast each morning.  This muffin idea is fabulously easy and so delicious!  Gives my family something a little different to eat in the morning or any time else.
Sausage Pancake Muffins

2 cups pancake mix
1/2 pound  ground sausage cooked, broken into small pieces and drained.
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix pancake mix as directed on package
Stir in the sausage and maple syrup
Prepare muffin tins by spraying with non stick cooking spray.  (I put liners in mine and sprayed them also.)
Fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way full.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done. (check after 10.  Mine were done in 12 minutes)

You can now eat them immediately  drizzled with some maple syrup or let them cool and freeze for a quick easy breakfast.
YUM!!  Even this non breakfast person loved them!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Undrunken Apples

I have my favorite barbecue restaurant and I love their cinnamon sugar apples or drunken apples as they call it.  I was craving them the other day so decided to try out making my own.  I researched some recipe and found that interestingly they were made with a little bit of alcohol..hence the name, even though all the alcohol is gone in the cooking process.  Pretty clever....but since I did not have any alcohol in the house I substituted my latest guilty pleasure instead.  It turned out amazing!! They whole house smelled incredible and the kids ate every bit of them.  Definitely worth the time to peel and cut the apples.  This made a great side dish to go with chicken potpie.

Undrunken Apples
adapted from
Makes 6-8 servings

12 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup Diet Mountain Dew (or regular Mountain Dew or lemon lime soda)

Mix apples with the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg
Mix in the soda
Heat over medium heat in a large pot until apple mixture is juicy and the juice comes to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes stirring often.  Remove from heat and....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

No Starter Sour Dough Bread

A couple of years ago my family fell in love with garlic sour dough bread.  It is a lot more expensive than the regular bread, so we only buy it every once in a great while.  I always wanted to make it, but don't have the patience to wait and keep up with the standard sour dough starter.  I came across this recipe from Averie Cooks it looked so yummy that I decided I might be able to actually make it myself. Due to my craziness I ended up creating my own recipe and surprisingly it turned out fabulously!  The family gobbled it up!  The only thing I will do different next time is not divide the dough in to two loaves.  I will only make one, so that the bread is a little bit thicker.  It was still an huge hit though.
No Starter Sour Dough Bread
1 (5-6 oz) container of plain Greek Yogurt with "active cultures" (the normal one serving size)
1/2 -1 cup sour cream (or more Plain Greek Yogurt)
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Ranch dressing
3-4 cups four

In a stand mixer dissolve the yeast in warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes until it gets a bit bubbly.   Add and mix the yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, ranch, salt, garlic and garlic salt.  Add the flour 1 cup at a time mixing for about 5-7 minutes.  It should be a heavy wet dough.  If it is dry or crumbly add more sour cream until the dough is the right texture (I ended up using 1 cup of sour cream).

Remove dough from bowl kneading it with your hands just a bit to create a large ball. Place ball in a large greased bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray and place in a warm area to raise for about 6 hours.

After the 6 hours (you can let it raise for more)
Remove from the bowl and lightly knead it for a couple minutes.  Pat the dough into a large round mound and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cut an "X" in the center of the loaf with a serrated knife.
 Lightly cover it again with greased plastic wrap and let it raise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven (this is the secret for the perfect crust).
When oven is ready place your cookie sheet with your dough on it on the rack above the water.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until the bread is a dark golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on the top of it.
Remove from pan on to a wire rack and rub top with butter.  Allow to cool. (This is the part my children had a hard time with for they did not want to wait)

Slice and enjoy!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cheesy Mushroom Chicken

This chicken took a bit to prepare, but was so worth the time.  It was heavenly!! My family ate every bit of it.
Cheesy Mushroom Chicken
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onions
2 Tablespoons butter

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the mushrooms and onions until tender.  Remove from pan and set aside.

12 chicken tenders (or 3-4 chicken breast cut in to tenders)
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic
Olive Oil

Mix flour, bread crumbs, seasoning salt and garlic together in a shallow bowl.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil in the saute pan (use the same one you cooked the mushroom and onions in) on medium high heat.
Dip each chicken piece in the flour mixture to coat each side.  Place in saute pan.  Cook until browned and then flip and cook the other side (approximately 3-4 minutes each side).  Add a little more oil as needed.  You will have to cook them in batches.  Place them in a lightly greased 9x13 casserole dish when browned.
Pour the mushroom/onion mixture evenly over top of the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then make the sauce.
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar

Melt butter on medium high heat.  Add garlic and saute  for 1 minute.  Stir in flour until it is a paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and stir until sauce thickens just a bit.  Pour over top of the chicken.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then top with:
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella or Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Return to the oven and cook 10 more minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Auntie K's Dinner Rolls

A few months ago my Aunt called and told me about a new roll recipe she was making.  She is the bread professional so I could not wait to try it out....they were AMAZING!! The rolls turn out light and delicious!  It was quick and easy to make.  My family thought they were in bread heaven!!
Auntie K's Dinner Rolls
Put in a bowl and set aside:(don't stir)
1/2 C. warm water
Sprinkle 2 T. yeast in water
Sprinkle  2 T. sugar on top
In a stand mixer add the following and mix:
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
Now add the yeast mixture and 4 cups of flour

Add about 4 more cups of flour-l cup at a time-dough should be a little sticky
Mix until the dough is mixed well and forms a ball.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl (or I use the mixing bowl), lightly cover with plastic wrap and let dough double in  size -at least 1 hr.
Shape in to rolls and place on a greased pan
Let rise at least 1/2  hr.
Bake 400 degrees for about 12 minutes-or until golden brown on top and bottom.

*You can make dinner rolls, sweet rolls, scones etc out this dough.
For Cinnamon Rolls-Roll out, spread with butter sprinkle with cinnamon 
and sugar.  Roll up and cut rolls( I use double  thread  to cut rolls)  
You can make your own frosting or I use the Whipped  vanilla frosting 
in the can.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Breakfast Cupcakes

You have probably already heard this, but I am not a breakfast person.  So when I make breakfast it shocks my family!!  They are wondering what is really going on, what the special occasion might be. They absolutely loved this one and it makes a great freezer meal for easy good breakfasts.
Breakfast Cupcakes
from Betty Crocker
1 bag (20-26 oz) bag of shredded hash brown potatoes (thawed)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 eggs
2 Tablespoons milk
3/4 cup diced ham, cooked sausage or crispy cooked bacon pieces
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a foil liner in each of the 12 regular sized muffin cups.  Spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl mix the potatoes, oil, salt and pepper.  Divide evenly among cups and press lightly.
Bake 45-55 minutes or until golden brown.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk.  I added a dash of pepper.   Then stir in your choice of meat and the cheese.  Firmly press the potatoes in the muffin cups with the bottom of a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  Top each with about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture.
Bake 13-16 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cent of the egg comes out clean.
 Cool 5 minutes and serve or freeze.

I made a double batch and froze half of them!
Will be making more!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Italian Ranch Dressing

A few weeks ago I was making a pasta salad and went to my fridge thinking I had some Italian Dressing in there only to open the fridge, do the normal search and come up empty handed.  That's is when I decided to get a bit creative and came up with this recipe...which to my surprise was SO DELICIOUS in the pasta salad, that we started using it on regular salad.  The kids loved it!  It may look daunting because of the ingredient list, but it is pretty quick to whip up a batch.
Italian Ranch Dressing
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Mix together.  Refrigerate and shake or mix before serving.



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