Brunch · main dish · memories · Mother's Day · Tablescapes

Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics

Isn’t it amazing how fast vacation time flies by? I had an app on my phone that told me how many more days ’til vacation.  Then, woosh!  It’s done!   It’s also easy to forget everything that happened.  It’s for that reason that I try to journal each day I’m away.  I try to log what we did and what the highlights of the day were. I write down any fun places we discovered, any new restaurants we enjoyed and also special things that we shared as a couple in our day together. Then when I get home I can read back over my writings and can relive our time away!

Here’s a picture journal for you of a few highlights and favorite photos from our time away. Continue reading “Friday Favorites – Vacation Pics”

Chicken · Fast meal · freezer · main dish

Getting the Most Out of a Deli-Purchased Chicken

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When was the last time you went to the grocery store or Sam’s Club and picked up one of these rotisserie chickens from their deli? Recently a friend brought one to me at a busy time and it was such a blessing!

Image result for deli rotisserie chicken

They are usually about $5 and are a great easy, delicious meal straight from the container. You might slice the meat and serve:

Potato Salad
Green Beans
Salad

It’s a wonderful busy night dinner.

However, if there are only two or three, you’ll have leftovers, but probably not enough to serve slices of meat again.  What do you do with the remains without wasting it?  I have a couple of ideas to help you get the most out of that $5 bird! Last week when I had that chicken, here is all the ways that it provided for us –

Chicken Salad – If you have enough white meat left, you could mix up the ingredients for lunch tomorrow!  This made for a delicious lunch!
Add:

  • White meat Cubes
  • Grapes
  • Pecans
  • Celery
  • Dressing – I mix together
    • Mayo
    • A little sour cream
    • Cinnamon

Served on bread or crackers, it totally transforms a rotisserie chicken into a whole new meal.

Chicken Pot Pie – You can use white meat, dark meat or a combination of both. It only takes 1 1/2 Cups of chicken – or you could use 1 cup and add more veggies!

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I make a low-fat version of Chicken Pot pie that is equal to any high fat version!

Don’t be afraid to alter the vegetables to what your family likes.  Changing that will not change its deliciousness!

Crust:
1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
4-5 Tbl cold water

Mix dry ingredients.  Use a pastry cutter or fork and cut in shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Add water, 1 tbl at a time, until all dough is moistened.  Form dough into ball.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten the ball of dough with hands.  Roll dough into a 13 x 8 1/2 inch rectangle.  Cover pastry and set aside.

Filling:

1 cup slices fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 12 oz. can evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (or more) chicken broth
1 tsp instant chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried sage, marjoram, or thyme (thyme is my favorite!)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 10-oz package frozen peas & carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Spray a cold medium saucepan with nonstick coating.  Add mushroom and onion.  cook and stir over medium heat about 4 minutes or till the onion is tender but not brown.

Meanwhile reserve 1 tbl of the milk. Set aside.  In a small mixing bowl gradually stir the remaining milk into the flour till smooth.  Stir into vegetable mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in the water, bouillon granules, sage, marjoram or thyme: and pepper.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Stir int he frozen peas and carrots and chicken.

Transfer mixture to a 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch baking dish.  Place pastry over chicken mixture.  Fold under edges.  Crimp edges of pastry with a fork.  Brush pastry with reserved milk.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or till the chicken mixture is heated through and the pastry is golden brown.  Makes 5 servings.

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This pie is so good, friends!  You could even assemble it and pop it into the freezer for another day!

Now, at this point I had stripped most all of the meat off the carcass.  Was it ready for the garbage?  No!  DON’T THROW THAT CARCASS IN THE TRASH CAN YET!!  There’s one more GREAT WAY to use that chicken!

Chicken Stock – No need to purchase cans or boxes of this in the store if you have a chicken carcass in your fridge!

Here’s the recipe and method I use to make chicken stock. Let me add one more thought – I have learned that it’s even easier to make it in the crock pot so I don’t have to babysit it.  I do the very same thing, only pop it into the crock pot and cook it all day long.  The house smells amazing and I have about 8-10 cups of chicken stock when it’s finished! Look how rich that broth is!

chicken broth

I pour it into small baggies, then put them in a large Ziplock bag and freeze them.

You could also just cube the meat off and freeze it in small freezer bags ready for soup, enchiladas or quesadillas, 

The possibilities are endless, and also so convenient because the chicken is already cooked.  You know, you might even consider buying TWO rotisserie chickens just so you can make so many great meals so easily!

When was the last time you enjoyed a rotisserie chicken?  What else do you do with yours?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Dinner · freezer · Low Carb · main dish · Main entree

A Healthier Pizza Recipe

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If you included weight loss in any of your New Year Goals, you will be really happy to try this recipe!  This Deconstructed Pizza Casserole is low carb but highly delicious! If you’re hungry for pizza, but don’t want all the calories and carbohydrates, this will come in a close second to the real thing!  I added a green salad and it was a perfect Saturday night supper that almost felt like, “Pizza Night!”

Here’s the easy recipe and my tweaks:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (do not use petite dice)
  • 5 links (19.5 oz.) uncooked turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 8-12 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed and cut into thick slices (I used brown Cremini mushrooms.) To wash, wet a paper towel and wipe the mushrooms.  Don’t rinse under water!
  • 1/2 Red onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
  • Pepperoni slices (I used Turkey Pepperoni, but you can use regular, if you prefer.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8 inch x 11 inch glass casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.
  2. Pour the diced tomatoes into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water. Let tomatoes drain a minute or two, then spread them out on paper towels to dry (or blot dry with another paper towel on top.)
  3. Remove the sausage out of the casing, and cook over medium-high heat until it’s nicely browned, breaking it apart as it cooks.
  4. While sausage cooks, clean mushrooms and slice into thick slices.
  5. When the sausage is done make a layer of sausage in the bottom of the casserole dish and top with the drained tomatoes and red onions, spreading  out over the top of the sausage. Season with dried oregano, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper.
  6. Rinse out the pan if needed, then heat 2 tsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until all the liquid is released and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Layer the mushrooms over the sausage-tomato mixture.

    Pizza cass 2
    I divided the mixture between two dishes, since it was just the two of us!  One went into the freezer for another day.
  7. Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella over the top of the casserole and lay the pepperoni pieces on top of the cheese, spacing them evenly so the whole top is covered with pepperoni.
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  8. Bake about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve hot.

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With yummy dishes like this, you could cut carbs and not feel like you’re missing your favorite pizza!

Hope you’ll give this a try!!  It’s super-good!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Dinner · main dish · Pork chops

Pork Chops, Peas and Potato Dish

You’re probably up to your eyeballs in sugar cookie dough and all things sweet right now, but you still have to have supper, right?! I’m going to help you with an old family recipe I remember having as a child, fixing for my girls when they were home, and I still enjoy today.
I love a recipe that doesn’t call for special ingredients.  I know I can open my pantry and find just what I need and pull supper together in a flash.  I recently made a casserole that’s an old recipe that falls right into that category! It’s called, Pork Chop, Peas and Potato Casserole.  I loved it as a child, and I love it today.  The pork chops get so tender while cooking in the tomato soup mixture, and the soup makes a great sauce for the vegetables.  I love these kinds of recipes where you pile everything in the dish, cover it, and you’re done!
You could put this together the night before and store it in the fridge until it’s time to bake it for dinner (just make sure the potatoes are all under the sauce so they don’t turn brown).  This is hearty and so good!  Add a salad and bread and the meal is complete!

Pork Chop, Peas and Potato Casserole

 4 Pork Chops
3-4 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 Cup onion, diced
1 can Tomato Soup
1 Can Milk
Frozen Peas
Salt and Pepper
Layer potatoes and onions in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add peas – as many as you think you’ll need.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix soup and milk.  Pour over top of vegetables.  Place pork chops on top and spoon some of the soup over the chops. Add salt and pepper to chops.   Cover and bake 1 hour.
The pork will be super tender and the potatoes and peas will have absorbed the sauce.  Yum!
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pork chops and peas
Have you been cooking any old family recipes?  Is there one you haven’t made in a while you need to pull out?  Sometimes those are the best!
With love from my country kitchen,
Denise Signature 150 px
baking · Lunch · main dish

Easy Stromboli

Strombolli 2a

If you don’t own a Gooseberry Cookbook, I’m telling you, you’re missing some great recipes!  I have one that’s for entertaining that is full of promises of happy things!  There’s not a recipe in there that’s not been really good!!  I recently pulled it out looking for a quick and inexpensive lunch-type food I could serve for after church Sunday night.  I came across this recipe for Easy Stromboli and was sure I’d found a winner…I was right!

This is appropriately named Easy, becuase it was a cinch to make.  Frozen bread dough also makes the prep fast and inexpensive.  I bought a package of 5 loaves for a little over $4 at Kroger.  I also made it and baked it before we went to church.  Then when we got home, I just warmed it in the microwave.  It was a quick light meal to use to entertain friends!

Here’s a picture of the easy steps:

 

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Easy Stromboli

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
2 eggs, separated
2 T. oil
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper
4-oz. pkg. sliced pepperoni – I used Turkey Pepperoni
8-oz. pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Roll out bread dough into a 12×15-inch rectangle; set aside. Combine egg yolks, oil, oregano, parsley, garlic powder and pepper together; spread over dough. Arrange pepperoni and mozzarella cheese on top; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Roll up; place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Brush with egg whites; bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

I served it with some pizza sauce alongside for dipping.  Yum!

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Have you ever had Stromboli?  I’m not sure I’d had it before I made this, but it will definitely be on repeat from now on!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise

 

 

baking · Bread · Cooking · dessert · Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · entertaining · Fall · main dish · Pasta · soup

Roll Call of Fall Favorite Foods

I’m not sure what it is about fall and winter that bring a variety of foods to our mind, but aren’t we all thinking about comforting casseroles, warm soups, and pumpkin everything?  I thought I’d gather together some of my favorites in those categories and highlight them all in one post for you today!  My recipe index here on my blog could be overwhelming, so maybe this list of a few favorites will help your October to be delicious!

meat loaf meal
I’m not a mac and cheese fan, but this recipe is fabulous!!!  I’d eat it every day if I could!

Casseroles
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Countryside Chicken Bake
The Best Ever Mac and Cheese
Taco Casserole
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

Breads
Nutty Orange Coffee Cake – Perfect for breakfast or brunch!
French Breakfast Puffs – Breakfast or brunch
Butter Dips – Delicious with supper!
Low-Fat Baking Powder Biscuits – Any time you need a biscuit – breakfast or supper!

Soups
Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder
Sausage Corn Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup – I made this again last week.  It’s heavenly!
Taco Soup
Baked Potato Soup

Oh, this cake!!!!  Love it.

Pumpkin
Pumpkin Muffins – Great addition to breakfast or a fall supper!
Pumpkin Roll Step by step instructions in my post!  You can make this!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake – Fast and incredible!
Pumpkin Bread – Make small loaves to share.
Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter – Oh my goodness, these are fantastic!!

Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter Recipe
Picture credit:  Taste of Home

 

If you’ll be hosting any fall event, having guests over, or cooking supper for your own family and want to try something new and delicious, here’s a great list to pull from!  These are some of my favorite fall foods that are tried and true!

If you need suggestions for other categories – salad, easy bread, breakfast, etc.) just leave a comment.  I’ll be happy to help you!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Cooking · Family life · main dish · Main entree · Meal planning · Traveling

Meal Planning for Family Vacation

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For a fantastic ending to a great summer, we enjoyed our first Family Vacation!  We were blessed to have our daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons all join us for a two and half day get-away!  Let me just start by sharing a few of the highlights:

  • Coming up with our hashtag for the time away!  We wanted pics to remember this event by, so we needed a hashtag for Instagram!  We settled on #hamfamvacay2017.  Some of the other running options were – #picvacay2017 #hammingitup2017
  • Having time to just be together. When you have babies in the group, it’s just easier not to be running all over, and we were happy with that!  We gladly opted to just stay near the condo and only go out one time.  We truly just wanted to be able to visit and be together.
  • Having time in the Word as a family. My husband gathered everyone together on the patio and we opened God’s Word to read a chapter and share our “Ah ha” verses.  How thankful I am that we could all contribute and share from the riches of the Bible.  I do not take for granted having a family filled with believers!
  • Meal time!  What’s better than home-cooked food, enjoyed at “home” with those you love?

It can be a little tricky feeding lots of people, but we came up with a plan that made it doable. Today I’m linking up with my daughter, Whitney to share how we managed six meals for six people, adding in the complications of two who were dieting, one who had a birthday, and one (kind of) picky eater!

Because we were staying at a Wyndham resort, we had cooking capabilities and decided we would eat all our meals “at home” rather than eating out.  Aside from being a money saver, it’s also so much easier to visit in the quiet of the resort, than at a restaurant.  But how do you bring enough food and give what everyone likes when there are six adults eating six meals?   Here’s what we did:

  1. I offered to make supper for both nights, knowing that they would be the more costly meals.
  2. I suggested that the girls either:
    ~each take a day and make both breakfast and lunch on their day,
    ~one take lunches for both days and the other the breakfasts for both days.  They chose the latter.

Another component in cooking for a crowd is dietary restrictions, or even likes/dislikes.  One of the couples was on a diet that restricted grains, dairy, sugar, and several other things.  One in our group isn’t too adventurous with foods.  We decided that we would do our best to provide a main meat that everyone could have, and then let them fill the gaps with what they could/would eat.  It can be nearly impossible to please everyone – right?  This way, the options was theirs to eat what the cook provided, or add their own items to the meal.

We were glad to be able to cook, but no one wanted to be spending lots of time preparing the food.  For my supper meals, I opted to do a grilled meat one night and an oven-prepared meal the next night.  Here were my supper menus:

Night One:

Grilled Steaks
(Adding only grill seasoning and no marinade, due to the dieters)
Baked potatoes (done in the oven)
Corn on the cob
French Bread
Cupcakes

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Excuse the poor picture, but the picture taking was low on the list at the moment! =)

For that first supper, everyone ate the steaks and potatoes, but the dieters didn’t have corn, bread or cupcakes.  We were celebrating a birthday that night, so I got creative with what I had and made a slice of a diet friendly birthday “cake” which also fell on the day of  the eclipse!

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My Eclipse “Cake!”

Night Two:

Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas –
(Everyone could add or leave off what they didn’t like)
Spanish Rice – (The dieters fixed Sweet Potato fries)
Refried Beans
Fresh Fruit

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After everyone else left, my husband and I had the blessing of finishing out the week at the resort, so we needed breakfast and lunch meals for those days as well.  To keep things easy, I tried to get double use out of items I brought.  For example:

  • Bacon – Used for breakfast or BLT’s for lunch
  • Bread – Toasted  for Steak night, Toast and jelly for breakfast
  • Leftover fajitas for lunch
  • Fresh tomatoes and fruit – salad, dessert and snacks!

Mealtimes were a huge success!  There was no flurry of wondering where we would go or what we were going to eat.  It was laid out simply and everyone had plenty of good food!

You can go here and check out Whitney’s post to see what she and her sister fixed for the other meals!

What does your  family do to make mealtime happen on vacation?

With love from my country kitchen,