I made a video! It’s about making almond butter.

Heeeeello!  I can’t believe I’ve let an entire month go by without a peep.  Awe well

My life has been on the move lately.  We’ve been having lifestyle changes which hasn’t left room for any type of creativity.  I wish I could say things are settling into place and we are on our way to a nice routine, but I would be blowing smoke up your rear end.  However, after making Rori her favorite almond butter I thought to myself; I should make a video over it.  My camera had been gathering dust on the shelf for over a month and I hadn’t made a video since Rori’s first birthday.  Plus, I wanted to create something.  Something that didn’t involve Popsicle sticks and crayons. 

Anyway.  I followed through in my thoughts and put together this video.  I really enjoyed the process!  It came out a little longer than I wanted so feel free to fast forward some of it!  (I’ll post everything you need to make your own below the video.)

….watch it or don’t.  whichever you prefer.

Almond Butter // Fills a 12oz jar

Food Processor
2 cups of almonds
Jar 12oz

In order to make almond butter yourself, you’ll need a full size food processor.  Pour the almonds into the food processor and blend until it is creamy.  Depending on your appliance it can take anywhere from 10-20 mins.  
*Optional: Add honey or oil for additional flavoring
*Storing: store in cabinet or refrigerator for one to two weeks. If it develops an odor, discard.  Make your almond butter in small batches to ensure freshness.

 

Ginos East Pizza Recipe | Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

When Bubba and I lived in Illinois, we were blown away by a small restaurant we stumbled into one day in St. Charles.  We were looking for a cheap place to sit down and eat after running around all day, and Gino’s East fit the bill. 

It was our first time to experience a true Chicago style deep dish pizza and from our first wide eyed bite, we were in love.  If I could’ve married it; I would have.  We ate there as often as we could, savoring every bite, until we received word that we were moving to Utah.

After our move, we became saddened by the fact Utah only offered us Dominos. 

Homesick for our beloved pizza, I began what would turn out to be years of trial and error to recreate the famed pizza.  I failed every time.  The pizza’s tasted well enough, but the crust was always wrong.  I gave up until two months ago when I happened upon a recipe that claimed it was the EXACT recipe the restaurant itself uses. 

With a claim that bold, I had to give it a whirl.  The first time I made it; it was close, but not quite as buttery as I remembered. (or at least wanted)  So I kept trying. 

Three times later and I think I have finally come as close as a home baker can get.

Ginos East Pizza Crust Recipe

slightly adapted from Food Com

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 C bread flour
  • 3/4 C ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 C hot tap water
  • 1 package of instant yeast
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t sugar
  • 6 T melted butter, cooled

Method

Preheat oven to 475*F and prep your cast iron skillet with vegetable oil (about 1/2 T oil) –Simply rub the oil over the bottom of skillet and up the sides.

Grind the cornmeal as fine as possible.  I don’t own a grinder so I use a mini food processor.  After grinding, sift the cornmeal into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Pour hot water, cooled melted butter, yeast, sugar, and salt into the bowl with the cornmeal.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed for ten minutes.

Switch to the dough hook attachment; set the speed to low.  Slowly add the flour until the dough comes together in a ball.  The dough should not be sticky; add more flour if it is.  You may not have to use all the flour so pay attention to the texture of the dough as your adding the flour slowly.  You want a dough that you can handle with your hands but not be sticky.  It should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl but still feel soft. 

Knead the dough by hand for five minutes.  You should NOT need any additional flour to knead.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap.  Set bowl in a warm place and let it rise until it has doubled in size.  

Punch down dough, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin.  Place into skillet and form the dough around the edges.  Cover with towel and let the dough rest for 10-20 mins.

Once the dough has rested, it’s time to build the pizza.  Prick the dough with a fork all over the bottom and sides.  Then spread a 1/2 inch layer of mozzarella cheese on the bottom.  (Sounds backwards but it works!)  Then add your toppings.  After your toppings, add an even layer of sauce over the top.  Not too much or it will make your pizza soggy.  Sprinkle the top of the sauce with a little Parmesan.  

Bake for 15 mins at 475 then reduce the heat to 400*F and bake for another 10-20 mins.  The cheese should rise to the top and brown.  The crust will also be brown.  Let the pizza cool for a few minutes before cutting.

Now grab a fork and dig in to a classic Chicago pie! 

 

 

 

WEEKLY MENU || vol 002

Once in awhile I like to share what we eat.  It’s something we all have to do every day and sometimes, when we are trying to think of something to make for dinner, it’s nice to have ideas thrown out there for us to use. 

We live on a very tight grocery budget so our meals are usually simple and kid friendly.

Chili Turkey Mac

Southern Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Buttermilk Biscuits

Chicken & Rice with Roasted Veggies added

White Wine Pasta with Chicken

Loaded Chicken Nachos

Loaded Chicken Salads with Roasted Chick Peas

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, & Bread

you can find last week’s weekly menu HERE.

 

Mexican Rice

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When we moved to North Carolina, we were met with some odd foods.  Not going to lie.  People here eat things that I have never even contemplated eating.  For example, when we went to the convenience store to buy worms for fishing, the cashier asked us with complete seriousness, “You gonna’ fry these up for lunch or you gonna go fishin’?” 
I can’t even make this stuff up. 
We laughed, or course, thinking that this was his dry humor shinning through, but oh no!!!  He was serious.  It is evidently a treat around here, just like boiled peanuts.  (Boiled peanuts don’t taste good…at least not to us.)  People here are just…country
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Even with all the liver pudding, pig feet, and fried worms, the south does offer really delicious food, too.  Don’t even get me started on their BBQ.   But, like with most places we’ve moved, no place has offered us good Tex-Mex.  Not Illinois, not Utah, and not North Carolina.  They offer it, of course, but it just isn’t the real deal.  Not like at home.
But like every good Texan girl, I know how to make my own fairly well.  And the very basics of Tex-Mex food is good ole Mexican rice.  Everyone in Texas has their own way of making it.  I even have two ways of making it, but I usually make it the way shown above because it is super fast and really tasty.  My other method calls for chopping tomatoes, straining tomatoes, yadda, yadda.
This recipe cuts down on all of that hoopla, while still tasting fresh, and really good.

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Mexican Rice
Ingredients:
32 ounces of chicken broth (4 cups or one carton)
2 Cups of long grain rice
1 — 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 of one medium yellow onion, diced (or one whole onion if you like)
1 small purple bell pepper, diced  (If you don’t have access to purple bell, then use whatever you have)
1 tsp of cumin
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste 
(I use a healthy dose of kosher salt & ground pepper—you know, the kind out of the tin canister)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon of tomato paste (optional)  //I usually don’t use it//
//You’re more than welcome to add a little heat to this, but my kids do not like spicy foods yet, so I leave it out.  Add jalapenos, cayenne, or green chilies if you like//
Method:
In a Dutch oven or pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add your diced onion and bell pepper, and sauté for 5-10 minutes, or until soft. 
Now add your garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  Now add your rice to the pot and stir it around for 5 minutes.
Pour in your can of tomatoes (Juice and all) along with your cumin, salt, and pepper.  Mix well. 
Now add your chicken broth.  Give it a good stir, and bring it up to a roaring boil.  Once it is boiling, turn down the heat to a low boil/simmer.  Cover the pot with the lid and let it cook for 20-30 minutes.  Stir often to prevent burning/sticking.    
This dish goes great with my Grilled Chicken Marinade.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Casserole

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It wouldn’t be fair of me to not share this recipe with you about making a “healthy”, yet creamy, chicken noodle casserole.  Really, it wouldn’t.  In fact, you can take this recipe and make it even healthier if you chose to do so.  But I’ll get to that in a minute

You see, I prepare this dish with the most basic of ingredients.  Things any regular cook would have sitting in their refrigerator & pantry shelves, making the ease of this dish astonishing.  I know every blogger will tell you this exact thing, however, I am being sincere.

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Eating this dish nearly had me feeling, like I was being unfaithful to the real stuff.
Nearly.
I think I will forego the delicate foreplay of spinning a story to accompany this post, and instead just jump right in here.  If you have a stay-in weekend ahead of you, do yourself a favor and make it. 
Just don’t be surprised if it is completely eaten by the end of the night.

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Healthy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Ingredients

2 medium carrots (diced, small)
1/2 of one medium onion (diced, small)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
4oz of Fat-Free cream cheese
1 package of egg noodles (16oz)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 large can of chicken, drained and flaked w/fork  (found by the Tuna, usually)
2 3/4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of grated parmesan divided
Salt & Pepper to taste
(To use healthier substitutes, use skim milk instead of whole milk, and use 8oz of wheat noodles instead of 16oz of white) Just know that using skim milk will give a slightly less creamy texture, but it still tastes great.

Method
Boil noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Throw in the diced carrots and onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. 
Once the carrots are tender, stir in your flour, and cook for 2 minutes to get the flour taste out.
Then slowly pour in the milk and bring it to a soft boil, stirring constantly until it begins to slightly thicken.  Once it has thickened, slightly, throw in the cream cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard.  Stir around until it has completely melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now add your peas, chicken, and cooked noodles and stir to combine.
After it has been combined, pour the mix into a baking dish and sprinkle 1/4 cup of remaining parmesan on the top.  Broil until slightly browned and bubbly on top.
Serve warm. 
Like what you see?  Then check out a few of my other recipes, here

How To Roast Your Garden Tomatoes

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I don’t really think you need a how-to over roasting your tomatoes.  I mainly just wanted to show off my garden tomatoes and how I am preserving them. Ha!   

All I did, was, slice the tomatoes (these are my Roma Tomatoes) and lay them on a pan lined with parchment paper.

Next, I picked a few leaves of basil, chopped it up and sprinkled it on top of the tomatoes.  I also sprinkled dried oregano, salt, and pepper over them.

Peel a few cloves of garlic and spread them around the pan.

To finish it up, drizzle some olive oil on top and throw it in a 200 degree oven for an hour or two, and then let it cool completely before bagging and freezing it.

Be sure to eat a couple while they are still warm.  You’ll be happy you did. 

*Just a side note:  To keep tomatoes from spoiling, you will need to roast them for many hours if you plan to store these for a long period of time.  My suggestion would be to cook them for about 5 hours, or until they are leathery.  You should also flip them during the cooking process.  These were very small tomatoes and I cut them thin, so the cooking time was much less.

Grilled Chicken Marinade

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You never know where your pantry, full of ingredients, will take you.  A dash of this and a sprinkle of that can bring a recipe together that will pull your family around the dinner table, time and time, again.
As usual, a few days before grocery shopping, I stood in front of my open fridge, a crumpled facial expression that was daring to create new wrinkles.  I tapped the handle with my fingers, thinking of what I could possibly pull off, that two picky toddlers, a teenage boy, and one man-child would eat and be satisfied. 

It wasn’t too much longer, before I had a handful of basic ingredients that sat, waiting to be combined, on the kitchen counter.  And as I threw everything into a plastic bag, I simultaneously said a silent prayer and crossed my fingers that this would taste good.

And it did. 
Ever since I made it, we’ve come back to it, and even used this marinade on pork chops.  No matter the meat you choose, it will taste full of flavor.  However, chicken is my favorite.

Grilled Chicken Marinade
Ingredient List
1/4 Cup of Pale Ale Beer
1/4 Cup of Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon of Dried Parsley Flakes
1/2 Tablespoon of minced Garlic
2 teaspoons of Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
Pinch of Salt
1-2 lbs of Thawed Skinless Chicken Breasts

Method
Place everything into a plastic bag and massage the chicken around with your hands until the chicken is well coated.  Let the chicken sit inside of the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, and then grill the chicken until cooked and the juices run clear.  **For best results, grill the chicken on an outdoor grill. 
I usually serve it on corn tortillas with cheese and lettuce, sometimes salsa.  I also serve it with some sort of rice.
I hope you enjoy it!

A Weekend Recipe

It feels like I haven’t shared a recipe in a while so I figured I would share what I cooked up last night.  Typically, I save pizza for our Fridays, but I was lacking the motivation to make the dough, roll the dough, etc.  

 

I didn’t want to chop or dice anything either, so I reminisced about all the convenience food I used to buy and Hamburger Helper came to mind.  I stopped buying this once I realized I was paying a $1.20 for a seasoning packet and one cup of dry pasta.  
::slapping my forehead as I speak::    

I also can’t begin tell you how versatile this recipe is; making it an added plus in my cookbook!  For example, if you like basil, then add basil!  If you like chili powder, then add chili powder!  You like jalapenos, then add jalapenos!  Want it creamier?  Add more milk!  I could go on forever, I tell ya!
Plus, my son loves me more when I make this so I figured it was reason enough to go with it.  Something about childhood and Hamburger Helper… 🙂
Without further adeiu.

Cheesy Hamburger Skillet
Ingredients
1 lb of hamburger meat
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon all seasoned salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup  whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound elbow pasta 
1 can of condensed tomato soup
salt & pepper to taste
Method
Brown and drain meat.  Boil pasta and drain. (set aside pasta for later)
Add your seasonings and flour to the meat.  Stir well.  
Now add your tomato soup and milk.  Stir well.
Cook over low-medium heat until it is a low boil and begins to thicken.  
Once it has thickened, add your cooked pasta and mix until it well combined.  Now mix in your cheddar cheese until it is melted.  
Serve with warm bread or coleslaw.

No Name Cookie | Kid Food

All three of my children are blessed with a hatred of oatmeal.  (*note the sarcasm)

But things changed the other day, folks, after I added oatmeal to these beauties.

Ahem…cookies.

These delightful tasting cookies have been stamped with approval by kid and husband, which enabled me to do my song and dance, “I tricked ya! I tricked ya!”

What can I say, it’s the small pleasures in life.

Okay, okay, I know adding oatmeal into cookies is nothing new, but when you have a kiddo who has multiple food allergies, one being nuts, it can be difficult to attain certain flavors & texture into the foods everyone else craves.

So
I improvised and added oatmeal to my chocolate chip cookies, which
added the perfect nutty flavor to balance the sweetness.

Just be warned, they will be eaten quickly by members of your household.  

In fact, my members had ants in their pants while I tried taking pictures.  They didn’t want to wait for me to take a reasonable, 206 photos with 30 different angles. Sheesh.
  

To make these cookies, just use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and add 1 1/2 Cups of quick oats, that have been blended in your food processor or blender.

Here is the recipe I have used for many, many, many, years.

Ingredients
2 sticks of room temp butter
2 eggs
2 Cups of flour
1 Cup of sugar
1 Cup of brown sugar
1 1/2 Cups of quick oats, that have been blended in the food processor
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
pinch of salt
11.5 oz bag of milk chocolate chips

Method
Using a paddle attachment on your mixer, mix the butter and both sugars until well combined.

Next add the eggs until well incorporated.

Then add all the other ingredients and mix until well combined.

Scoop one tablespoon (or use a cookie scoop) onto your baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.  Remove them from the oven and let them remain on the baking sheet until cooled enough to remove with a spatula.

Enjoy!


Kid Food | Mac & Cheese Bites

I remember an uncanny discussion my husband and I had about our refrigerator during our first year of marriage.  We were wondering why manufacturers made the freezer compartments so much smaller than the fridge compartments.  After all, didn’t every one purchase all of their meals, frozen?

Our conversation quickly turned in to us buying an extra freezer because our freezer was literally popping out frozen bags of chicken wings, while our refrigerator stood practically empty. 

In our household, cooking consisted of what Voila bag we were going to open and serve.

I’m happy to say, that I threw my excuses out the window, picked up a spoon, and started cooking.

I’m glad I did.  Our meals taste less salty and better.

Despite my culinary exploration, I still found making sauces intimidating.  But after I made this meal, sauces were feared no more!

(I usually freeze these and whip them out whenever I’m in a need of a quick side dish for the little kids.) 

On to the recipe, then.

Toddler Food
Mac & Cheese Bites
makes 31 mini bites
Ingredients 
1 cup of elbow pasta (macaroni)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 1/2 Cups of milk
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (good ole black powder kind)
Italian bread crumbs for topping
Method
First, boil your pasta per box instructions.  Drain the pasta, and set aside.
In a sauce pan, over medium-high heat, add your butter.  Once the butter is melted, add your flour to it and whisk together for about 2 minutes.  
Slowly, pour your milk into the flour mixture, while whisking constantly.  Continue to whisk until the milk begins to thicken (like a thinner gravy).  
Once the your milk has thickened, add your cheese, salt, and pepper to the sauce; whisk together until cheese has completely melted.
Now add your cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix together well.
Grease 2 mini muffin pans using cooking spray and spoon in the macaroni.  Next, lightly sprinkle your bread crumbs on the top of the macaroni. 
Bake at 375-400 degrees until golden brown.  (My oven gets hotter than the standard oven, so I bake mine at 375 degrees)
To Freeze
Once they are finished cooking, let them cool completely.  Place inside of a freezer bag and freeze.  You can reheat them in the oven at 275 degrees or microwave them until they are completely heated through.