Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Almost is good enough!

I should have blogged last night. I apologize in advance. I made some homemade white chicken enchiladas and homemade salsa that tasted EXACTLY like Chili's salsa. Good recipes. GOOD. But I didn't, so I'm sorry. I almost blogged about them last night, but in that case, almost wasn't quite enough.

There are times when almost is enough, though. Like tonight, when for some reason I am beyond tired even with a decent night's sleep under my belt. Maybe I'm just tired in anticipation of the sleepless night I feel is coming, as Dylan is apparently going to bark like a dog all night. 

Poor baby. And it's not just me. Jeff is already dozing in the recliner, and even the rabid gingers are fairly quiet. Now. And yes, I know that's not a good sign, but they're zoned into the Xbox right now. I only have a little bit of mommy guilt about that. But, in any case, I am having the kind of night where I'm tired and half-a$$ing things and not cooking much seems to be the way to go.

Time to turn to an old favorite of mine-Almost Lasagna.

This most assuredly falls under the category of cheap, easy, everybody likes, and 'makes a crapload' of food. (I realized the other day how sad it is that 'healthy' is WAY down on my list. I'm too excited when they eat ANYTHING.)

You don't need much, and you can get it all here in town. Ingredients are as follows:

12-14 oz of some kind of macaroni noodles (we like rigatoni)
1 lb ground beef OR chicken (we prefer chicken, can be made with either)
I jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 bag of shredded parmesan
1 bag of shredded mozzarella
1 tub of Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
and you can chop and add veggies in if you like, black olives are a favorite here :-)

1. While oven preheats to 350, cook your meat of choice, drain.
2. Mix beaten eggs, ricotta, half of the parmesan, and some salt and pepper to taste (garlic salt is good, too)
3. Mix meat, noodles, any veggies, then add the cheesey mixture in with all of that.
4. In a greased 9x13 pan, add half of this gooey mixture. Place half of the bag of mozzarella all over the top, and half of the parmesan you have left over.
5. Add the rest of the mix, then top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
6. Cover with foil, bake for about 20 minutes. uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes to get the cheese all melty bubbly good. 

This is really easy, and even easier when you just throw some frozen garlic bread in the oven with it for the last ten minutes or so. As you can tell by the picture below, I'm not a true food blogger. I haven't yet mastered the art of remembering to take a picture of a dish in all its pristine, 'just-cooked' glory. By the time I do remember, there are gaping holes where my people have already pigged out, myself included. So here's what the chicken almost lasagna looks like:

Oh, yes, there will be leftovers...
 So anyways, that's my food blog for tonight. Not too much else to report on the home front at the moment. As compared to earlier, when the heathen childrens were running around fighting over MY phone. Thanks, Apple for child-addicting apps. I rarely see my iPhone these days. I miss it.

My Twitter (that just sounds bad, lol!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Well, I tried out another new recipe last night. And this time I even had a guinea pig other than Jeff :)

My best friend and I each have three small children. Granted, she only lives a mile down the road from me, but it's just difficult to get together sometimes, especially with all the holiday rush. So, since it was January 12th yesterday, we decided we probably ought to get together and do our Christmas. Time to test my newest recipe!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza. OMGAH. The title even contains all of my favorite things. It makes you salivate just to read it. (Well, it does me, anyway.) As I write this, I'm totally having it for breakfast, because I doubled the recipe and had a crap ton left over. So, easy, and cheap pizza that sounds like it was sent from the gods. Here we go.

SN: It's amazing how four older kids can entertain themselves sometimes. Carly and I actually got to hang out in the kitchen and cook!

You will need: (for a single pizza-I made two)

1 canned pizza dough
1/4 c Ranch dressing (I used a little extra)
1 c shredded mozzarella (again, extra cheese never hurts anyone!)
1 c shredded cheddar
1-2 cooked chicken breasts, bite-size pieces
6 slices of cooked, crumbled bacon (I'm lazy-I bought a bag of already crumbled)
1 diced tomato
1-4 c (or more) sliced black olives (or really, whatever veggies you like)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease the bottom of a baking sheet with Crisco or oil of some sort. Shape the pizza dough (which is conveniently already square) to fit the sheet.

2. Put all that crap up there on it in this order: (leave yourself about a 1/2-1 inch border of dough around the sides)
           *Dough (duh)
           *Ranch dressing
           *Cheddar cheese
           *Mozzarella cheese

This is what it looked like before cooking: (I should also mention, at this point, that Carly and I decided that even if the crust or something sucked, the toppings alone would be worth eating. And they were, ohmigosh, they were...)

So, onto the rest.

3. Put pizza in oven, will need to cook about 15-20 minutes. The crust doesn't take that long to cook and the cheese gets yummy melty bubbly fairly quick. You just want to take a spatula and check to make sure that the bottom has browned nicely.

Finished Product

And you're done. Your house should smell divine, and your husband/s.o./whatever should do a double take when they taste it. In other words, this recipe was very well-received by my peoples, lol. Fairly quick, easy, cheap (having most of the ingredients already) and oh-so-tasty.

Here's what I'm planning for dinner next week: ***subject to change, lol

M: Cheese, chicken, and bean quesadillas with homemade knock-off Chili's salsa
T: "Almost" Lasagna (store-bought garlic bread), Fanta Strawberry cupcakes
W: Pepperoni Rolls and salad (store-bought salad)
Th: Homemade Chinese: Sweet/sour chicken and fried rice
F: Crockpot chicken and apple cheddar bread

Whoa-that looks really ambitious now that I've typed it, so we'll see :) Whatever, I'm MARTHA FREAKING STEWART, hear me roar!

In case you're wondering, plain old soy sauce pork chops tonight.

Oh, and a last little happy-this is my son Dylan and his girlfriend, Lilli Kate. They are so getting married in about 25 years. Me and her momma have it all planned out. Catch you all later!

Twitter: @mrsjeffgray2002
Facebook: Roxanne Gray

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My new addiction

No recipes here...just wanted to let everyone know about my latest addiction. Just to get it out of the way, Carly, I hold you fully responsible for this. (smiley face)

Anyway, as if I didn't waste enough hours of the day on Facebook, Twitter, and the internet in general, now I have Pinterest. I didn't understand it much at first, but I'm catching on quick and I love it. LOVE IT. It's basically another social networking site,but it's really just pictures of things (recipes, crafts, etc.) that people like. Anyone, anything. Within reason-there are no pornographic items or such allowed. It excites the recently awoken crafter in me like nothing else has lately. I have so many things that look so easy and so cool to try and I can't wait to get started on some of them.

You can like something, or "pin" something to your page, or "board" to remember it later. You can do this with any picture from any website (except Facebook so far, I've found). It's also really fun to look through all the things other people have found interesting. You can search all pins, or by category.

So, basically, I love Pinterest. Another new addiction. Thanks, Carly!

As usual, Dylan is napping, and I was playing on the Pinterest app (yes, there's an app for that!) on my phone, and Bryce was sitting in the recliner with me. Here's the conversation we just had:

(I had surfed over to the Car/Motorcycle boards to see if there was anything Jeff might be interested in. Oh, yes, there is much.)

Me: "Hey, Brycie! Look at this car, it has a swimming pool in it."

the car in question

Bryce: "Oh , cool! Do we have a car like that?!?!"
Me: "Um, no, Brycie. We don't have a car like that."
"Well, can we get one?"
(It is at this point where I lose total control of the conversation...)
"No, baby, those cars are really, really, expensive."
"Like, 59 dollars?"
"No, I think they cost a little more than that..."
"Like, 69 dollars? You got 69 dollars. Can we get one?"

Sure, son. I can think of nothing more practical than a convertible with a pool in the backseat for our family of five. I don't know *why* I was even considering a minivan. I'll get right on that :)

So, in a silly little way, this quirky little site has helped me bond with my son this morning. Awww! If you'd like to visit Pinterest and see my board (which is in its very early stages) click here. And for the entire site in general, here. Very fun, a good way to pass the time. And if you need an invite, just shoot me an email to mrsjeffgray2002@msn.com.

Facebook: Roxanne Gray

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New recipe? Well, sorta KFCish recipe.

I know, right? Two blogs in one day? How *did* you get so lucky?

One quick note, I finally sat down and decided to figure out how the fine art of hyperlinking works. Turns out, there is actually a neat little button in Blogger that does it for you. Now, I feel oh-so-much more advanced than I did in October, when I didn't have a clue what I was doing :) See, look at that nice, clickable link I just made to an older blog post! Expect to see a lot of this if you read this blog.

So, the actual blog entry....

I'm doing good! I'm actually trying to make good on what I blogged about earlier today, and share when I try a new recipe. I did so just a little while ago. Since my kids all seem to be playing in the living room, I'll take a quick break and tell you what I did. (Yes, there is screaming in there, but it's happy screaming. At the moment.) It was actually pretty easy, and cheap, too. The only thing I didn't already have on hand to make this with was paprika, and I got that at EW James for $1.19 for a little bottle.

After I cooked  it, Jeff and I sat at the table to eat. The conversation went something like this:

Jeff: "This is really good chicken."
Me: "Thanks, new recipe. It's supposed to taste just like KFC, but it doesn't, but it's still good, I think."
Jeff: "No, there's a hint of KFC..."

Obviously, the recipe I tried tonight was a twist on regular oven-baked chicken. It's called 'KFC Chicken'. Oddly enough, it's a recipe that is supposed to duplicate the colonel's chicken flavor. Who'da thunk? And while it didn't exactly taste like KFC (as Jeff later told me, they get their flavor by pressure-cooking) it was really good, and did have a very similar flavor. And it was easy. And cheap. Which, here lately, are my two priorities when I cook. I even had plenty of time to make a super easy, super delicious peach cobbler. Yes, I am writing this post stuffed to the gills with food :)

So here's the recipe. I found it on Facebook; I think my friend Kara posted it. And if anyone wants my stupidly easy and cheap cobbler recipe, just let me know.

What you need:

Chicken (I used 3-4 breasts, and stripped them. I learned a long time ago, when you are breading food, the smaller the pieces you bread, the more you seem to have. Hence, I almost always cut chicken, pork, etc in at least half before cooking.)

1 cup of flour
1 tbsp of Season-All salt
2 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

1. MOST IMPORTANT STEP....Try to keep the baby up during the afternoon so he will take a good nap while you are cooking. Failing this, give him to his daddy to hold with this one-liner: "Here, hold him while I go cook YOUR supper." That generally works.

2. Thaw your chicken however you want it pieced up.

3. Place thawed chicken in milk for 30 minutes. I also used a meat tenderizing hammer before this step, but it's not really necessary.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5. Cut up 1/2 stick of butter into a few pieces, and place in a 9x13 pan in the oven for just a few minutes to melt. Make sure butter is spread all along bottom of the pan, then,  if there are any dry spots, spray with PAM to ensure complete coverage.

6. Shake excess milk of chicken, cover completely in breading mix. You can use a big bowl (like I did)  or a big Ziploc bag, which I didn't have.

7. Cook for 20 minutes, turn, cook 20 minutes more or until cooked through.

I probably made that sound a whole lot harder than it was, but anyways, you get the idea. If you try it, let me know if you like it. It was a pretty big hit here. There wasn't any left to take a picture of to put on here, and I didn't figure anyone would want to look at an empty plate.

I must go now, as the screaming in the living room is starting to get a fighting edge to it. Gingers, *sigh*...

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(Oh, aren't hyperlinks cool? LOL)

Not-so-new idea...

This is the point in the day where everything slows down and gets quiet for a bit. Jeff and Emmy are off about their daily routine Bryce is playing the XBox, and Dylan just went down for a nap. Absolutely the time I need to be getting a shower. But what am I doing? Well, duh, blogging :)

(Haha, I wish!)

Since I really do need to take a shower and probably put actual clothes on instead of pajamas, I'll make this kind of short. I had an idea the other day that while I could still blog and all and try to be funny, I thought I might put a recipe in here or there. See, I've been on this kick lately where I am so sick and tired of eating the same thing over and over and over again. ("Pork chops AGAIN, Mom?") So to appease myself and the food gods in my house, I have been looking in what little spare time I have for cheap, easy, and cheap (did I mention cheap?) recipes. We are a one-income family, and groceries aren't getting any cheaper.

Like last night, we had sauerkraut and weenies. Not really anything new or noteworthy, I just hadn't cooked it in awhile. I fried some potatoes with it, and everyone was happy. You don't even really need a recipe for that, but someone who hasn't made it in awhile might say, 'Hmm, that sounds pretty good. And cheap'. And now, you don't have to worry about what you are gonna cook for supper. And in this search for new things, I have come across some really decent stuff. Jeff said the other day, "Wow, you've really turned all Martha Stewart on me." That makes me feel good, that he likes :)

If y'all think it's a good idea, let me know. If not, I'll just keep on the same way I have. (Which, really, is what I intend to do anyway, just with a recipe every once in awhile.)

So, I really need to go shower now while everyone's occupied, so I'll be back later. Tootleloo!

Twitter: @mrsjeffgray2002
Facebook: Roxanne Gray