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Rice Cooker Mac n Cheese

4 Jan
Easy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Easy Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

My hubby LOVES macaroni & cheese.  Really I think he is just a big kid at heart!  We are spoiled rotten in the fact that we get to have lunch together almost every day!  Macaroni & cheese is probably his most requested meal.  We do occasionally eat boxed mac & cheese but I try to make this simple recipe instead.   There are no preservatives and I can tweak the ingredients to make them even healthier.  You actually cook the macaroni in a rice cooker!  It is beyond easy and contains only 4 ingredients.  😉

In a rice cooker combine:

  • 1 cup Chicken Broth (I use 1 cup water and 2 t. chicken broth powder)
  • 1 c. uncooked pasta.  It doesn’t even have to be macaroni!

Turn on the rice cooker and allow this to cook.  It usually takes my rice cooker about 20 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for lunch preparations.  🙂  (Be careful not to leave the cooked macaroni sitting for a long time or it might burn on the bottom.)

After the macaroni is cooked add 1/4 cup milk and 1 cup shredded cheese.  Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes and serve.  I like to place the lid back on so that the cheese can melt quickly.  Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

Homemade Peanut Butter Popcorn

26 Nov

We love peanut butter popcorn at our house!

We have just wrapped up a wonderful family evening trimming our Christmas tree and spending time together.  I’m a bit old-fashioned and always enjoy stringing some popcorn up as a decoration too.  I refuse to buy microwave popcorn it tastes disgusting compared to the real thing.  😉  It’s also SO much more fun to watch and a lot cheaper.  Elijah stood in his learning tower the whole time it was cooking watching it just pop away.  We had a great time making (and eating) our peanut butter popcorn.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Peanut Butter Popcorn:

Pop enough popcorn to make 8 cups popped.  Let cool.

In a saucepan combine 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. honey (or corn syrup-I use honey).  Heat until it comes to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 c. peanut butter (I use smooth) and 1/2 t. vanilla.  Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly.  Enjoy!

 

CopyCat Auntie Anne Pretzels

9 May

Although they are not quite as pretty as Auntie Anne’s they tasted just as good.

I came across a recipe for Auntie Anne Pretzels on Pintrest a while back and knew Eli and I just had to try our hand at making them.  Although they were a bit time-consuming we both had a great time making them.  Click here for the recipe.  (I did cut the butter in half and they were still excellent.)

Eli LOVES to bake!

I try to do a special or new activity with Elijah each week.  Making pretzels was such a fun memory.  Who knows maybe it will be his first?  (I was 2 when I had my first memory.)   I’m also quite proud to say that I can make pretzels that taste just as good as Auntie Anne’s!  (I will NEVER get them to look that pretty though.)  😉

The Learning Tower is still such a blessing and worth every inch of space it takes up in our kitchen.

To say that Eli enjoyed making pretzels is in fact an understatement.  I guess for Eli it was like play-doh but better.  🙂

You do need a large workspace for rolling out the pretzels.  I rolled the pretzels out on our table since our counterspace is limited.

Eli trying his best to roll out a “snake”.

I also sprinkled real pretzel salt on top of each pretzel that I had purchased at a Mennonite Bulk Foods store.  (If you are a local friend I”d be more than happy to share.)  The pretzel salt really made the pretzels seem authentic.

Yummy! 

This was such a fun recipe to make.  Next time I think I will try rolling them in cinnamon and sugar.  I also wonder if the pretzel dough could be used to make pretzel rolls or buns for sandwiches?  What do you think?

CrockPot 40 Clove Chicken a.k.a. World’s Best Chicken

26 Apr

Eight to ten hours later dinner is served!

A couple of years ago I made a profound discovery in the kitchen.  Meat cooked with the bone still intact tastes 100 times better than regular chicken breasts.  (It’s also MUCH MUCH cheaper!)  If you don’t believe me just try this easy peasy 40 Clove Chicken in the Crockpot.  🙂  (These days we hardly EVER bake regular boneless chicken breasts as we prefer baked chicken.)

Rinse chicken and pat dry. (I recommend using paper towels and disinfecting counter and sink afterwards.)

Spray CrockPot with non-stick spray. Chop 2 stalks of celery and place in bottom of slow cooker.

If you have a favorite poultry seasoning feel free to use it in place of mine.  Here is what I usually use.  Combine: 1 t. salt, 1 t. dried sage, 1 t. dried thyme, 1/2 t. dried rosemary, 1/2 t. pepper.

Since we do not usually eat the skin on our chicken I like to place the spices directly under the skin.

I usually use a small spoon to place the spices deep inside under the skin on the chicken breast.

Slice a lemon and place deep inside the cavity. This gives the chicken a wonderful flavor! 🙂

Rub chicken with olive oil and place in slow cooker. Add remaining spices to the chicken and rub in.

Add 1 c. of chicken broth around chicken. Separate 3 heads of garlic into individual cloves (do not peel). Place around chicken. Cover and cook about 10 hours or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken and place on a serving platter.  Allow chicken to cool slightly.  Serve with toasted French bread or Italian Bread.  We like to squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins and spread on the bread.  Around our house we also like to call this Point Chicken.  We have such fond memories of enjoying it with friends from our former church (The Point).  🙂

 

20 Mar

Menu Plan March 19-25

Spring is here!  Although I was really hoping for at least one good snow this winter I”ve decided to just enjoy the glorious weather we have been given.  (I’m still not convinced we won’t have snow on Easter though.)  After making dinner tonight (in a house without air conditioning) I think we will be focusing on lots of CrockPot or stove-top meals.  🙂       

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Applesauce Spice Muffins, Milk
  • Lunch: Leftovers from my birthday. 🙂
  • Dinner:  Baked Cod, Sweet Potato Fries (oven baked), Salad

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt with Homemade Granola
  • Lunch: Sneaky Potato Soup, Salad
  • Dinner: CrockPot Beef Enchiladas-our favorite crockpot meal!

Friday:

  • Breakfast: Sausage Breakfast Casserole, Toast
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner:  Spaghetti with Sesame Italian Bread
  • Snack: Popcorn

Saturday:

  • Breakfast: Homemade Granola Bars made from the Homemade Granola earlier in the week, Fruit
  • Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches on the road
  • Dinner: on the road.  I am going on a road trip this weekend to see a friend, details to follow next week.  Can’t wait!  I’m planning on taking a medium sized cooler full of snacks for Eli and myself.  🙂

Sunday:

  • Breakfast: Granola Bars, hard boiled eggs, bananas.
  • Lunch: on the road
  • Dinner:  Chicken Veggie Casserole

Confessions of a Non-Menu Planner

17 Feb

Menu planning blesses your whole family.

 

I have a confession.  I didn’t plan my menu this week.  Horrifying isn’t it?  I mean I even taught a class at a college last semester about menu planning!  To my credit I did think about planning a menu for a little while earlier in the week and for some reason I just brushed it off.  Usually I sit down at the beginning of every week (or two) and jot down a quick list of what we will be eating that week.  (I also usually make my grocery list at the same time.)  For info on planning a menu see here.

So I guess that is how I found myself at 7:00 tonight trying to whip up a quick batch of Chicken Tetrazzini only to find that there was not a single piece of cheese anywhere in our house!  We were also out of just about everything else you can be out of.  (Doesn’t that always happen at once?)  Since I have been cooking regularly for a few years I am usually able to come up with something else that will work fairly quickly.  Tonight however was another story.  I gazed in sadness at my pantry and fridge.  For a slight moment I thought I might really cry.  Ridiculous that such a small thing could frustrate me to the point of almost tears. 

My wonderful let’s solve the problem hubby loaded Eli up in the car and off to the market we went.  An hour and fifty dollars later we came home with the block of cheese.  I did manage to get dinner made eventually but the joy was gone.  That’s not the type of wife I want to be.  That’s why I won’t soon forget to plan my menu next week.  🙂    Won’t you join me in planning your meals next week?

Menu Plan Jan. 2-8

3 Jan

We were blessed to celebrate a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.   Hope you and your families had a blessed Christmas.  We are settling in well to our new home and welcomed our first real snow today!  Hooray!  I’m sure lots of sledding is in our future this week so we will be keeping the menu fairly simple.            

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Sunshine Muffins (Carrot-Raisin Muffins), Milk
  • Lunch: Out with friends to a chili parlor
  • Dinner:  Chicken Noodle Casserole with Mixed Vegetables

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt and Leftover Muffins
  • Lunch: Zuppa Toscana Soup (just like Olive Garden), Grilled Hummus & Cheese
  • Dinner: We call it the Moe’s Meal: Chicken, Rice, Salsa, Beans, Cheese
  • To Do: Make Homemade Bread

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal with Apples
  • Lunch: Lentils and Rice with Cheese
  • Dinner: Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Homemade Bread

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

  • Breakfast: Sausage, Pancakes, Eggs
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: @ Church
  • Snack: Crockpot Mexican Dip and Chips

Sunday:

 

Christmas Week Menu Plan

19 Dec

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It is hard to believe that there is less than a week left before Christmas.  With our big move this month I think it is just now starting to feel like Christmas the past couple of days.  Hopefully we will actually be able to put up our Christmas tree tomorrow.  We spent a delightful evening yesterday Christmas caroling.  The Christmas Spirit is definitely alive in our home despite the lack of decorations.  🙂          

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Leftover French Toast Apple Strata: This is a wonderful dish to make around Christmas.  It can be assembled the night before and then put in the oven in the morning.  (I often make it when we have house guests.)  We may end up making it again on Christmas day. 😉 
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken and Mushroom Stew over Rice.
  • Dinner: Leftover Roast-I made this the other day and for some reason it took forever to cook so we ended up making pancakes for dinner.  Everyone has those days right?   
  • To Do: Make Homemade Bread-I found all of the parts to my mixer yesterday!  Hooray! 

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Chocolate Banana Bread
  • Lunch: Leftover Soup and Grilled Cheese     
  • Dinner: Leftovers

Friday:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, Granola Bars
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Christmas Party    

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • Breakfast: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit  
  • Lunch & Dinner: To Be Determined (still nailing down our Christmas plans)  

Menu Plan Dec. 5-Dec. 11

9 Dec

Photobucket

As most of you probably already know we have MOVED!!!  We are super excited and are loving our new church home.  Sorry for the break in blogging (my longest ever).  Life was way to crazy during the move to keep it up.  We moved last Saturday.  Life is still pretty crazy for us but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.   As far as our menu goes it’s been pretty interesting around here.  🙂  I don’t know the last time I have been this creative in our cooking.  I’ll start to make something and realize oh wait I haven’t found the potato peeler yet.  Anyway here is what our super simple menu has looked like this week:         

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Coco Wheats, Yogurt, Banana   
  • Lunch: Grilled Ham and Cheese, Broccoli Cheese Soup, Carrots
  • Dinner: Fancy Smancy Dinner out with a bunch of area pastors and their wives.  (It was lots of fun.) 
  • To Do: Soak Oats overnight for breakfast

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Soaked Oatmeal, Yogurt.  
  • Lunch: Lunchmeat Sandwiches (These were a real treat for us this week.  We usually don’t buy lunchmeat since it is so expensive.)  
  • Dinner: Spaghetti, Side Salads, Rolls.

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, leftover Soaked Oatmeal, tea
  • Lunch: Lunchmeat Sandwich, Veggie Sticks
  • Dinner: Chicken Casserole-A super sweet lady in our church sent it over via her hubby.  I was so thankful!  I had been trying to figure out what in the world I could fix and he showed up with a casserole.  It was delicious too! 

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Coco Wheats, Yogurt, Banana.
  • Lunch: IHOP-No your eyes aren’t fooling you we went out for brunch.  🙂 
  • Dinner: Crockpot BlackBean Chili over Spaghetti 

Friday:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, Granola Bars
  • Lunch: Beef Skillet  
  • Dinner: kale, potatoes, sausage, leftover rolls. 
  • Snack: Popcorn (if I find the popcorn maker) 😉 

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • Breakfast: Pumpkin Chip Muffins, hard boiled eggs, bananas.
  • Lunch: Beef Patties, Noodles, Green Beans. 
  • Dinner: TBA Eli is having a family birthday party!

How to Make Apple Jelly from Apple Peelings

19 Oct

Don't throw away those apple peels and scraps. Use them to create yummy jelly.

 

If you follow me on Facebook you might have noticed that I have spent a good deal of time canning in the past few weeks.  So far I have mainly been canning different types of jelly and apples.  Lots of apples might I add.  🙂  While canning apples I hated to throw away the peels knowing that it was possible to take the peels and turn them into jelly.  So that’s what I did.  I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. 

You need a "jelly bag" or pillowcase to place all of the peels in once they are cooked. You can also use a jelly stand with the jelly bag.

 

How to Make Jelly from Peelings and Scraps:

  • Place all peelings and leftover apple parts in the largest pot you own.  Add water (I think I used about 4 cups?).  Cook about 4 hours. 
  • You will need a jelly bag or pillowcase to place the water and peelings inside.  I didn’t have a jelly bag so I sewed one up while my apple peels were simmering.  I made it by sewing 2 pieces of fabric 14″ X 24″ right sides together.  Turn inside out and add a casing at the top.  Insert ribbon.  Viola.  So simple to make although I would probably make mine about 1/2 as tall next time.  Ideal size would be more like: 14″ X 12″. 

    Hang your jelly bag with a bowl underneath it to catch the juice.

Place your peels and juice into the jelly bag.  Hang it from a hook in your kitchen with a large bowl underneath.  You could also use a jelly stand.  I do not have any hooks or cabinet pulls in my kitchen so I ended up placing the bag in a strainer on top of a large bowl. 

 

This set up worked great for me since I don’t have any knobs to hang the bag in my kitchen.

 

 

 Periodically I squeezed and kneaded the bag in my hands to release more juice. 

  • After a few hours the juice is ready to make into jelly.  You can either make it immediately or store the juice in the refrigerator. 
  • My large pot of peelings yielded 3 quarts of juice. 

Jelly Making:

Batch 1 (Without Pectin): I used the Apple Jelly recipe in the Ball Blue Book (pg. 35): 4 cups apple juice, 3 cups sugar, 2 T. lemon juice.  Stir constantly until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and cook to a gelling point.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam.  Place in jars and process 10 minutes.  Somehow I ended up cooking my jelly too long.  Instead of yielding 4 half pints I was left with only 2!  Oops.  Guess I made some yummy apple syrup?  🙂 

Batch 2 (With Pectin): For the second batch I decided to take the easy way out and use some Pectin.  You can either purchase Sure Jell or Ball Natural Fruit Pectin.   It was so easy to make the jelly using pectin!  I may never try to make jelly without it again.  Well at least not for a couple of weeks.  I just followed the directions included with the box.   

The finished product.