Cooking

Hashbrown Chicken Casserole

Hashbrown Chicken Casserole

Hashbrown Chicken Casserole

As I went through my freezer, fridge, and pantry, I came up with this dish. At the end of this post, I will put what I will do differently the next time I make it. It made a 13×9 dish so that we would have leftovers. Next time, I will put it in a smaller glass dish and then an aluminum pan. From there, I will cover it well and freeze the extra. That way, I will stock up my freezer. By making a big batch and freezing half, over time, you will have enough to feed your family for at least a week. In my case, I usually do this once a month, so I can go a whole month using the food that I cooked. Cook, eat once (leftovers), and freeze the other. You will not regret it.

Ingredients

Chicken (I had frozen Tyson grilled chicken. You can use canned chicken, cook a whole chicken, or buy a rotisserie chicken or chicken breasts. I sound like the guy off of Forrest Gump describing the different types of shrimp.)

Bacon (bits or fry and crumble)

Seasoning

Garlic butter (I used leftover Papa John’s garlic butter)

Minced garlic

Onion, chopped

Portobello mushrooms, chopped

Two c. sour cream

One can of corn, drained

1/3 c. milk

Bread crumbs

Cheddar

Hashbrowns (I bought the cubed southern hashbrowns that have chopped-up peppers)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400. Grease a 13×9 dish and place your hashbrowns. I sprinkled the top with seasoning and mixed that up to get it all coated. Future me will add the seasoning and then a packet of ranch mix. On top of that, I added my garlic butter. Future me will make a garlic-infused compound butter to put a few pats on top. Oh, Ghee would be good too! I do love me some Ghee.

I cut up my chicken strips in a large bowl and added all the ingredients (including more seasoning and a packet of ranch) except the bread crumbs and a handful of cheddar. I did, however, mix some cheddar in with the chicken. Once that is all mixed, spoon over the top of the potatoes.

I then sprinkled some Italian Bread crumbs (any will do Panko would be good) and used the rest of my cheddar. Cover it will aluminum foil and bake it for about 30 minutes with the foil on tightly. Take the foil off and let it cook for another 10 minutes.

I served it with leftover hotdog buns that I buttered and put garlic on. We are living the dream over here!

What I Will Do Differently

Next time, I will add bigger chunks of chopped peppers. Also, I will probably add a couple of packets of dry Ranch seasoning. The verdict is out on the corn. I liked the sweet pop of flavor, but it was also weird. That’s a mental thing for me. I will probably fry bacon the next time. This time I used bacon bits. Also, I will probably heat my chicken with some bacon grease for added flavor. Oh, chopped spinach would have been great in this!

 

 

Cooking

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole

Chili Cheese Dog Casserole. Here is another easy dinner idea. I love chili, and I love chili cheese dogs. Here is a great combo that my family loved. I served this with chips. Here’s the thing, my downstairs air conditioning is not working well. For example, it’s hot in my downstairs. Add that to the frustration over my pool not being ready. Depending on others has proven that we should only lean on ourselves and teach ourselves. So, our pool is green with frogs, our air is going out, and I had grandbabies and a child(ren) living on the struggle bus.

Now, let’s look at the positive. The upstairs air is working. Then we had the theater room, which was a lovely temperature, so we hung out and watched a show. Most of my kids were home to eat and get haircuts. I had my grandbabies, which is a positive all by itself. After my husband worked some brain magic, the pool got cloudy but cleared up. This recipe was quick and easy, and I could do it in stages to not heat my house to the levels of hell itself.

Ingredients

Hotdogs (I bought bun length)

Crescent rolls (2 packages)

American Cheese Slices

Ground Beef

Onion

Garlic

Seasoning Mix

Chili Mix

Chili Beans – 2 Cans

Cheddar Cheese

Chips

Directions

Take a crescent roll, a slice of cheese (I half it), and a hotdog. Roll your crescent roll out, lay down your cheese, place your hotdog (I slit it down the middle so it doesn’t explode), and roll it up. Please put it in a 13×9 greased dish. Bake at 375 for about 10-12 minutes.

In a skillet, brown your beef, onion, garlic, and seasoning. Once done, drain the grease and place it back in the pan. From there, I add the chili beans and chili mix. Stir it well. Take the chili and scoop it around the hot dogs. Sprinkle with cheddar. Cover and bake until it is all heated. Serve with chips or rice.

Thoughts

Everyone likes this. I made the mistake of cooking it warm to prevent me from turning my oven up too high. I should have kept it covered because I felt the beans got too done and a bit hard. With no liquid in this, nothing can keep everything soft. The aluminum foil keeps the beans good in texture.

However, everyone loved this dish. My husband asked for it to be on our rotation, though we don’t have a rotation. I need to be more diligent about writing down what I cook. There are things that I make that he loves, and I have zero remembrance of how I made them. Shelf-cooking is just a natural part of who I am. Also, leftovers are a thing we don’t usually have lying around. If I have something left over, I use it in another dish. Maybe writing down my recipes will help me have a rotation to make my husband happy! He loves it when I remember how to make something.

 

Cooking

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Chicken Fajita Casserole

Let’s take a break from these heavy topics and go for the food!

You can adjust this recipe to fit your needs. This recipe filled a 13×9 dish. You could cut the recipe in half if you don’t want that much food. I added some stuff, so I will list what I used, and you can adjust as you wish!

Bart does not love Mexican food. Let me rephrase that he doesn’t love it when I cook Mexican food. However, everyone else in my house loves it. Occasionally, I will sneak it into my rotation. This week, I am trying to solely shelf-cook. For the week, I spent around $100 on groceries (not all food items, some non-food-related things). I am trying to use up what I have and then restock. With groceries getting so high, it is a constant pull to stock up or shelf-cook as much as possible.

This Chicken Fajita Casserole was so easy, and I had all the ingredients already on hand, so that made it even better. Put it together, and it will cook in no time. About five tortillas were left over, so I cut them into triangles and threw them in a bowl with oil, chili powder, and sea salt. From there, I put the lid on and shook them up. They went on a sheet pan, and I fanned them all out and cooked them at 350 for about 5 minutes. I served the chips with this dish. You could also do store-bought tortilla chips or rice.

Ingredients

Seasoning for Chicken and Veggies

2 1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Should I admit now that I don’t measure anything? Ever. I’m spitballing for all of you right now.

Chicken Fajita Casserole Ingredients

Bag of frozen (thawed and chopped) chicken fajita strips

One orange pepper

One yellow pepper

One zucchini

Fresh portobello mushrooms

Minced garlic

One onion

One stick of butter (you can use oil)

One block of cream cheese

1/2 c. sour cream

Cheddar Cheese

Saute

I took premade chicken fajita strips and cut them into bite-sized pieces for the Chicken Fajita Casserole. I added them to a large bowl. Next, I took a yellow pepper, orange pepper, onion, one zucchini, fresh mushrooms, and some minced garlic for this casserole. I cut, into slices, all of the veggies and put them in the bowl.

I put the seasoning blend inside that bowl of meat and veggies. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up very well. From there, I put that in the fridge and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Next time, it will be in there for an hour. I want to make sure that everything is marinated well in it.

Once that was ready, I got my cast iron skillet, added a 1/2 stick of butter, and melted it in the pan. I threw my chicken and veggies in there, and I slowly cooked it. I added another 1/2 stick of butter and put a cookie sheet over the pan to tenderize the veggies. The chicken was pre-cooked and frozen. I bought it in the freezer section of Walmart, and I let it thaw in the sick before I chopped it up.

Execution

I preheated my oven to 350. Then, I grease a 13×9 dish. I put all the chicken and veggies on the bottom of the pan. Then, I mixed 1/2 c. sour cream and one block of cream cheese in another bowl. I spread that over the top of my chicken fajita casserole mixture.

On top of that, I sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top of—Bake for 20 minutes. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the juices do their thing.

Enjoy.

 

Cooking

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is a super simple dish. A straightforward, shelf-cooking pasta recipe; and it has very few ingredients. To make it a complete meal, you can make some garlic cheese bread. Also, we usually fix a Caesar salad.

Easy Pasta Recipe Ingredients

Pasta (I used Linguine)

Seasoning mix

3 room temp eggs (reserving two ladles of the hot pasta water)

Bacon (reserving 3 Tbsp of bacon grease)

Fresh mushrooms

Garlic

Large onion, sliced

Parmesan

This would be good with some cut-up and sauteed peppers. Changing things up a bit makes pasta recipes your own instead of a copycat recipe. Also, this was a complete shelf-cooking recipe that made me happy. Always keep essential ingredients on hand for dinner recipes.

Copycat Recipe for Coal Miner’s Pasta Directions

Cook bacon. Take out when done and crush. Add garlic, mushrooms, and onion (spinach would also be a good add-in). Once the veggies are soft, pull them out.

For this easy pasta recipe, crack the 3 room temperature eggs and beat lightly.

Cook noodles in salted water. The hot starchy water should be ladled into the bowl with the beaten eggs. Whisk in slow and fast to keep from cooking the eggs.

Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add in 3 Tbsp. Bacon grease and the vegetable melody. Use thongs or something to twirl all that together. Slowly add in the egg mixture and twist/mix the entire time. Once that is all in there, add a lot of parmesan. Keep on twirling until it is all incorporated.

It was so freaking good and so easy.

Dinner Recipes and Easy Pasta Recipe

I have collected (and written down) our favorite pasta recipes. These are easy pasta recipes, and this one could be vegetarian if you left out the bacon. My family loves bacon, so that is not an option. However, turkey bacon will be in the future.

There are nights when cooking is not on my agenda. I’m over it after 30 years of cooking for my family. That burnt-out feeling is natural. The inspiration is not there. So, I’ve been looking for dinner recipes. Specifically, I have been looking for an easy pasta recipe my family will love. A bonus is when it is entirely shelf-cooking items with what I almost always keep on hand in my pantry.

Initially, I found this recipe in Rachael Ray’s cookbook. That is back when I drew inspiration from cookbooks. Then, I was a collector. Now, they collect dust. Maybe I should dust them off and find more inspiration. In the beginning, I did follow the instructions. Honestly, now, I adjust to the tastes and desires of my people. There are things I add or take away from and substitute as needed. The goal is to get recipe, dinner, or easy pasta recipes and adapt them to become your own. You are more likely to continue cooking it if you adjust your tastebuds.

Cooking

Garlic Parmesan Chops Soup

Garlic Parmesan Chops Soup

Garlic Parmesan Chops Soup

As promised from yesterday’s post, this is the Garlic Parmesan Chops Soup that is so good! Bart was so impressed, and the pot was instantly all gone! So excited to add a new soup.

Ingredients

Pork Chops (I used boneless)

Seasoning

Bacon grease (or oil)

Butter

Seasoning

Parmesan Sauce

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. parmesan

Garlic

Spinach (chopped)

Fresh mushrooms (chopped)

Onion (chopped)

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Addition

Potatoes washed and cubed (with or without skin)

2 c. cheddar

2 cartons of chicken broth (you can make your own or use water and chicken bouillon cubes)

Cream of Mushroom Soup

How to Make

In an electric skillet, pour some bacon grease (or oil) and butter. I pounded my chops and seasoned them well with my seasoning mix. Fry them up. Once done, remove them from the pan. Again, these were leftovers from last night, so all I did was chop them up into bite-size pieces.

Place all of the parmesan sauce ingredients in the same skillet the chops were in. Stir until thickened. This was, again, leftovers from the night before.

Soup Process

Get your chicken broth boiling, and add some seasoning. Put in your washed, cubed potatoes and let them boil. Once they were done, I scooped them into a bowl, leaving the chicken broth water in the pot.

I added the cream of mushroom soup, parmesan sauce, and cheddar to that pot. I whisked that all into the water to get all the lumps out. Then, I placed the cubed leftover pork chops and let them simmer to warm and soften them up. Once that was done, I added my potatoes back in.

So.  Freaking.  Good.

 

Cooking

Garlic Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce

Garlic Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce

Garlic Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce

Here is another new recipe that is a winner in our family. Garlic Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce was easy to make, and newsflash makes an excellent soup for the next day. Watch for tomorrow’s post where I transform this dish into something my crew loves!

Ingredients

Pork Chops (I used boneless)

Seasoning

Bacon grease (or oil)

Butter

Seasoning

Parmesan Sauce

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. parmesan

Garlic

Spinach (chopped)

Fresh mushrooms (chopped)

Onion (chopped)

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

How to Make

In an electric skillet, pour some bacon grease (or oil) and butter. I pounded my chops and seasoned them well with my seasoning mix. Fry them up. Once done, remove them from the pan.

Place all of the parmesan sauce ingredients in the same skillet cooked inside the chops. Stir until thickened. You can either lay your chops back in there and keep it on low (this will prevent the cheese from burning). Instead, you can serve it by laying your chop on a plate and scooping out the sauce to pour over.

I doubled the batch so I could do a recipe for the next day, transforming this into a soup!

 

Cooking

Lipton Onion Soup Thighs with Rice

Lipton Onion Soup Thighs with Rice

 

Lipton Onion Soup Thighs with Rice

 

Oh, this is a good one too! Lipton Onion Soup Thighs with Rice is what is for dinner. The rice was fantastic! This is another “throw-together” kind of recipe. I had lots of Lipton Onion Soup Mix packets. It is finding creative ways to use them without having a roast.  

 

Ingredients

 

Chicken Thighs

 

2 c. rice

 

2 c. chicken broth

 

1 can cream of chicken

 

1 can cream of mushroom

 

1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix

 

Garlic Powder

 

Seasoning

 

Shredded Parmesan

 

Panko

 

How to Make Lipton Onion Soup Thighs with Rice

 

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 13×9 dish. In a large bowl, combine the uncooked rice and chicken broth. Next, add Lipton Onion Soup Mix, cream of mushroom, and cream of chicken. Put in the bottom of the dish. On top, place the uncooked chicken. Sprinkle some garlic over the top, as well as panko. Next, throw on some shredded parmesan. Bake, covered, for an hour. Uncover and bake for 25 minutes.

 

The rice was excellent!

 

 

Cooking

Chicken Fajitas and Rice

Chicken Fajitas and Rice

Chicken Fajitas and Rice

So, I took a lot of leftovers and sad-looking veggies. From there, I made Chicken Fajitas and Rice for dinner. No picture because when I do something new, I think if it sucks, why would I want to document that? Maybe this will be the year I am inspired to let my good and sucky food shine through photos.

Recipe

Chicken (I used boneless, skinless thighs because it is what I had on hand.)

Seasoning

Fajita mix (I used 3 packets)

Red, orange, and yellow peppers

Onion

Garlic

Queso Fresco

Flour Tortillas

2 c. uncooked rice

2 c. water

Teriyaki Sauce

Extra virgin olive oil (any oil is fine)

Preparations

For the rice, I used my instant pot. I placed my 2 c. uncooked rice in, then added a packet of fajita mix, a splash of teriyaki sauce, and my seasoning concoction. Set it and let it go.

I placed my cut-up chicken thighs in a bowl and added fresh garlic, seasoning, a fajita mix packet, and lots of teriyaki. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up. Placed it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least an hour (overnight or several hours is better, though).

In my electric skillet, I added some extra virgin olive oil. I sliced up a large onion and all my peppers. I sauteed them with some seasoning and a few splashes of teriyaki sauce. Once those were softened, I took them out.

In the same skillet, I cooked my chicken until it was done. Once that was done, I added the veggies and used the other packet of fajita mix. I turned it on low and covered it until the rice was done.

Serve on the rice or wrap up in a tortilla with some queso fresco sprinkled. It was excellent!

 

Cooking

Shelf-Cooking

Shelf-Cooking

Shelf-Cooking

We are nearing the end of the year, and I’m so ready for it! I want to organize everything, be a minimalist (my definition), and donate items to live with more peace. For now, I start with Shelf-Cooking, again.

I’m not particularly eager to waste food. I’m creative—those things I can say with complete confidence. I am not a food prepper/hoarder. We buy what we need, and we use it up. I do not have the funds to go and stockpile things like Jordan Page.

Faithful Viewer

I was a faithful viewer of hers, but over time, I realized she was not on the same playing field as I was. Yes, she has eight children. Yes, as she states CONSTANTLY, they are “hers” and “biological,” and she has “given birth to all” of her children.

Congrats to you. For some reason, that rubs me the wrong way. Why do you have to stipulate how your children came into your family? I mean, regardless, my kids are my kids. I gave birth to them one way or another. There is no difference in how they came to my family.

I digress. Her overabundance of all things is not mine or my life.  

For the Normal People

We are not big grocery bill spenders. In the past, we did buy a cow and a pig once a year to help with meat costs. Plus, the meat was excellent, lasted all year (and then some), and we got it at a crazy good deal because it was my granny’s cattle.

That hasn’t been an option for us the last few years, so we have had to add that back into our budget. There are also times when (like during the holidays) we have gone overboard in what we have bought. That isn’t often, but with seven kids, two sons-in-law, and 1.5 grandchildren, we have a lot of birthdays.

I cook for a minimum of 5 people a night, but we usually have my oldest kids and their crew over or my parents. There are always a lot of people. I do think about when it will just be my husband and me. Like, how do you even cook for two people? I struggle when I only cook for five people.

Take Inventory

I take a complete inventory of everything in my small chest freezer, my kitchen freezer, fridge (we only have 1), and my pantry. I combine what I need to. I write down what we are low on because I will forget.

I get my list, make it, and then create it. For every meat I have, I can come up with a meal. This meal is either a staple (spaghetti, chili, hamburgers, chicken noodle soup, or breakfast) or a bit more complicated.

I try and use everything I have and only purchase the items I am completely out of or what I need to complete a meal. However, there is that list of things I’m running low on. That is a running list for when I do my extensive shopping.

Large Family Budgeting

That occurs when I have completed all my list of suppers. We take the bare minimum of what we have (cream of some soup, veggies, 1/2 boxes of this or that), and I create a menu for a week.

Before, I would cook for a month. Right now, we do not have the freezer space to do that. So, until we buy another freezer, I will cook for a week. I have room for that. Sometimes, I cook for two weeks if I have the space.

A lot of things can happen in 2 weeks, and a lot of scheduling changes can occur. I have had to learn to be flexible and move items around. It isn’t easy for my Type A personality.

My Goal in Realistic Shelf-Cooking

I aim to have an area where I can have my staple, easy meals on hand. Having easy meals is for when I go to hospitals, on road trips, extremely busy, or things like that. These are meals my husband can quickly cook and knows how to cook without me in his ear telling him to step by step. It also will prevent us from eating out, which saves money.

I’m not quite there (lack of space), but I hope to be there in the new year. For now, I’m cleaning out, organizing, making lists, and preparing for what I hope to be a new habit in the new year. I’m all about saving money, not wasting food, and creating enough to feed my family.

You will be amazed at what you can create with what you have and how that can save you money at the end of the day. We are finally at a point where we have more money at the end of the month instead of more months with no money.

We have come a long, long way.

Cooking

Mexican Lasagna Created From Leftovers

Mexican Lasagna Created From Leftovers

Mexican Lasagna Created From Leftovers

Well, my my my, I had no idea my Mexican Lasagna Created From Leftovers would taste so good. A few days ago, I made Philly Cheesesteaks Sandwiches. I had a lot of the meat leftover, which I used instead of ground beef.

Ingredients

Steak um’s (you can use ground beef)

Salt-free garlic and herb seasoning

Seasoning

Creole Seasoning

Orange, yellow, and red peppers, chopped

Fresh garlic

Onion, chopped

Two cans of diced tomatoes

1/3 white queso Velveeta

Can of drained whole kernel corn

Directions

I placed my meat and veggies in the pan and sauteed them. You can add oil, bacon grease, or butter to keep them from sticking. Once that was done, I seasoned it until it tasted like I wanted it to taste.

Next, I added corn and diced tomatoes. My husband doesn’t like tomatoes like that, so I covered my pot and let them stew down. Then, I added the white queso Velveeta. Taste to adjust the seasoning.

Rice

2 c. of water

2 c. of rice

Place on “rice” mode in your instant pot. Let naturally release.

Layering

Put a small amount of sauce in a greased 13×9 dish. Then, place in flour tortillas; next, sauce. Then, rice. Finally, I had some Colby/jack cheese cubes. I broke those over the rice and added a bit of cheddar. Repeat layers ending with cheese.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.