Simple Garlic Noodles

Thursday, January 18, 2018

One of the easiest  , quickest meals to make for lunch are these  simple garlic noodles. While the noodles are cooking you make the sauce , which is just mixing the ingredients in a bowl . Then cook the onions and garlic in a skillet and mix everything together. You can add a protein like chicken or shrimp for a heartier more filling dish. If I have leftovers from the night before I will add them, but I prefer them as is. I make these often for myself and my 19 year old before he heads to work.
You can find oyster sauce and sesame oil in the Asian food section of the grocery store.

Simple Garlic Noodles
8 oz spaghetti pasta
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
4 T butter
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
2 T light brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T oyster sauce

1.Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. drain and set aside.
2.In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and oyster sauce. Mix well and set aside.
3.In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium low heat. When the butter is melted, add the garlic and green onion. cook for @2 minutes, until they are soft and fragrant.
4.Add the pasta and the sauce to the skillet and mix well to incorporate the sauce and the garlic and onions.
5. Garnish with extra green onion . These can be served warm or cold.

Homemade Cough Syrup

Friday, January 5, 2018

I have used homemade cough syrup for as long as I can remember. Growing up, we went to a pediatrician that was all about telling my mama to make a homemade syrup rather than using the store bought ones. And my nana always made us the homemade stuff using honey, lemon juice and Wild Turkey. It always seemed to work and I use homemade for my family. I have three different ones that I have on rotation , one using whiskey, one using Southern Comfort and one using pineapple juice ( for the kids). This one is made with the whiskey. It packs a punch, so use accordingly. I take 2 teaspoons full every four hours or so and it does the trick. I will be adding the other two recipe in the next few days, so check back.

Homemade Cough Syrup

15 soft peppermint rounds 
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 oz honey ( local honey from your area is best)
whiskey of choice ( I use Knob Creek)

In a clean pint jar, add the peppermints. Then add the lemon juice and honey. Stir a few times and add enough whiskey to fill the jar, with about 2" headspace for shaking.
Place the jar lid and ring on tight and shake a few times. Let it sit for a few minutes and shake again. The peppermints with dissolve and you will have a smooth red syrup. 
Take 2 teaspoons every 4 hours.

Cracker Chicken

I have essentially been  a stay at home mom for 20 years. 2 decades you guys ! Man I am feeling old just absorbing that! Anyway, I have made thousands of meals in that time for my husband and sons. Some that were totally forgettable, some just meh, and some that I make over and over. This chicken is one of the latter . My boys request this chicken the most out of anything I make. So old school, retro 70's cracker chicken. Super easy to put together with ingredients that you more than likely have on hand. I always make sure I have a sleeve or 2 of reduced fat Ritz brand crackers on hand just in case I decide to make this meal on the fly. Now, I know it seems like a lot of butter. But it is just used to adhere the crackers to the chicken. It really isn't that much at all. I say go for it. Use coconut oil or olive oil if you must, but it will not taste the same as using the butter. Trust me. I have tried it all 3 ways and the butter wins hands down. When I crush the crackers I use my hands and crush them over a shallow bowl. I have tried the plastic bag method but it is one extra step and takes longer for me than just using my hands. I usually just eyeball the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Maybe 1/4 tsp of  both salt and garlic powder and 4 or 5 grinds of fresh pepper. Season to your liking. I have just started using Penzey's Spices  roasted garlic and I am obsessed . I sprinkle this on everything. I just checked their website and they are out of stock, but I highly recommend bookmarking the page and ordering one , or two :) when it becomes available again.
You can also experiment with different spices and flavors with this chicken. It is a great base recipe.

Cracker Chicken

6 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless ( I use 3 fat ones and cut them in half horizontally)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, melted
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4-5 grinds fresh black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking dish.
2. Place the crushed crackers into a shallow bowl. Add the salt, garlic powder and pepper to the cracker crumbs and stir until well blended.
3. In a second shallow bowl, add the melted butter.
4. Dredge each piece of chicken into the butter, and let the excess drip off, then  dredge in the cracker crumbs, coating well. Both sides. Then place each chicken breast into the baking dish in a single layer.
5. If you have extra butter , just drizzle it over the tops of the chicken.
6. Bake , uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the crackers are golden brown. If the crackers are getting too brown, just cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and continue to bake. 

Homemade Almond Joy Lip Scrub

I don't know about you guys, but my lips tend to stay chapped in the winter time. I will be the first to tell you that I am not a girly girl. Not by any means. I am a boy mom and my boys have been known to stare at me if I have makeup on because they rarely see me with it on. I literally shower, brush my teeth and put on mascara and chapstick  most every day. But....dry , cracked lips are a no go with me.  I have bought expensive lip exfoliants /scrubs before and they work fine. But I am pretty absent minded and misplace things all the time, not to mention needing one for the car, the house, my purse etc and at $16-$20  per small tube, no way. Making my own lip scrub is the solution. And as a plus, it is so inexpensive, easy to make and it is all  natural.  There are so many different flavors you can use. Add instant coffee, essential oils, flavored water drops etc instead of the coconut and almond extracts that I use. I choose the almond joy flavor because my boys use it too, and I know if it smells and tastes too girly, they won't use it, so I stick to the basics. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer in general. and it works wonders on lips. It leaves them soft and healthy. You can use granulated white sugar or brown sugar for this recipe. I just grabbed white for this batch. Totally up to you. These make wonderful gifts as well.
The containers I use came from my local pharmacy. If you look in the section where they sell travel sized toiletries, you can usually find small containers that will be perfect for this scrub. Usually I can find clear, blue, green and purple ones. This recipe fills 6 to 8 of the small containers, depending on how tightly you pack it in there .
Make sure if your coconut oil is hard , pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until it melts and is easier to mix with the sugar and extracts. It will harden back up ( or melt ) depending on where you store it. Keeping it in the refrigerator in the warmer months will keep it the right consistency to use on your lips.

Homemade Almond Joy Lip Scrub
1 c white or brown sugar
1/4 c coconut oil, softened
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

In a bowl, mix all 4 ingredients well. Using a small spoon, scoop into containers and pack the scrub with the back of the spoon ( Like you would if you were packing brown sugar for baking)
That's it ! Use on lips as a scrub . Gently massage into lips.  Wipe off with a slightly wet cloth , or just lick it off, it is 100% edible :)

Porcupine Meatballs

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I am a sucker for comfort food. It is cold and windy here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and has been for a few days. Weather like this makes me crave comfort food. When I was growing up, my Aunt Bev made these meatballs every time I spent the night over at her house. They were my favorite and she knew that and made them for me with love every time. I remember watching her make them so many times. When I was a young mom and wife I started making these meatballs for my own family. Never had a recipe, but made it by memory. A few times I had to call her to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything, but now I can make them in my sleep. I usually serve these meatballs with mashed potatoes, but have used noodles and rice as well.

Porcupine Meatballs

1.5 lbs ground beef
2 T butter
1 (6.8oz) box Beef Rice A Roni
1 egg
1 1/4c water

1.Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl and set aside
2. in a skillet on medium heat, add the butter. When it melts, add the rice a roni. NOT the seasoning packet just yet. Just the rice. Stir the rice and the butter for about 2 minutes, until the rice is coated and begins to darken a bit. Remove the rice from the skillet into a bowl to cool.
3. When the rice has cooled, add it to the ground beef, along with the egg. Using our hands, mix it all well. Make meatballs ( I usually have around 23-25 meatballs) and place them in the skillet that you browned the rice in. 
4. Om med high heat, brown the tops and then turn and brown the other side of the meatballs.
5. In a mixing cup, add the water and the reserved seasonings packet. Stir very well , making sure there are no lumps. Pour the water mixture in the skillet with the meatballs. 
6. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and cover ( I use a piece of aluminum foil)  for about 15 minutes, until the rice is soft and the meat is cooked through. You may need to add a bit of water if the meatballs are soaking up the moisture, just check it every few minutes and add as needed. 
7. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

My kids love hot chocolate. In fact, it has been the number one requested beverage around here for a few weeks. It has been  cold here in the northeast, and they love the warm mugs of cocoa when they get home from school. This is my go-to recipe for homemade hot chocolate. What I love is that I can sub out the french vanilla coffee creamer for seasonal flavors, like pumpkin spice or peppermint mocha  and flavor the hot chocolate for gift giving. This year I made a batch of regular and a batch of peppermint mocha to give as gifts to neighbors, our mailman and the boys teachers. You can use any size jar or container you like. I had pints on hand this time! Enjoy! 

Homemade Hot Chocolate  ( for gift giving)

6 c sugar

1 (2lb) box nonfat dry milk

2 (13 oz) containers malted milk powder

1 (15 oz) container  french vanilla non-dairy coffee creamer (or any flavor you want)

1 (13oz) container chocolate malt mix

1 (8oz) cox unsweetened cocoa powder

In a very large, deep bowl, combine the sugar,non fat dry milk, malted milk powder, coffee 

creamer,chocolate malt mix and cocoa. Mix well to combine.Store in airtight containers at room 


Yield : approximately 27 cups

Southern Cheese Straws

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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As a little girl growing up, these were a common sight at my nana's house. She made cheese straws all the time because she knew everyone loved them. She did that often. She spent hours in her kitchen, humming songs under her breath that I am sure she learned by listening to her mother and grandmother hum those same notes so many years ago. Along with lemon bundt cake and homemade chex mix, these cheese straws were on a constant rotation on her kitchen counter. I can still see the old, rectangular Tupperware container in my mind. She layered the straws in wax paper ( wrinkly and thin from the last time she made a batch. She was an avid recycler long before it was the cool thing to do ;) ) and you could see the deep orange straws through the container and we all knew what she had done all afternoon. She knew it made us all happy and she  baked these with love every time . In the later years of her life, she still made them. Only my papa would step in and help her. He would pipe them onto a cookie sheet while she watched. The visual in my mind of the two of them together, working their old, tired hands in the dough, will forever be a part of me.  When I grew up  , married and moved away, they both knew that my kids had developed a love for them as well, and they would trek to their home town an hour or so away and they would pick up  a half block of aged cheddar cheese from the country store that has supplied my family with nourishment for decades. From cheese to sausage to old fashioned candy, the store holds as many cherished memories as the food itself. I still remember climbing in their big old Cadillac , all the grandkids in the back seat, and taking a road trip to that old homestead and the old store on the way back home. So when they got word we were on our way, they would go on a cheese run. And my kids learned quickly what that old Tupperware container held and they appreciated it and looked forward to them each and every time we would venture home. I havent had any cheese straws in many months. My nana passed away  a few years ago. Needless to say, that is also when my heart shattered into a million pieces. I haven't made a batch of cheese straws since she left us. So today I woke up and made a batch of her cheese straws. I didn't have her cheese. I don't have the same container to put them in. But they are made. They are waiting on the counter for my babies to enjoy when they walk in the door. And I know when they see them, they will smile. And their bellies will be full. Not just food full, but soul full. And for that I am thankful. So here is her recipe. With a twist. I hope she is looking down today and smiling.

Cheddar Cheese Straws

1 lb (16oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the better)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 330 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a mixing  bowl, add the cheese and butter. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, salt, cayenne and paprika. Mix well and gradually add the flour to the cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Your batter should be a slightly sticky and smooth. If it separates and looks dry, you have added too much flour. Just add a tsp or so of milk and soften it up again. I never use the whole 3 cups of flour, there is always about 1/4 cup left.
When you get a smooth dough, press a bit of dough into a cookie press fitted with the star shaped disk. Pipe the dough into straight lines on the cookie sheets.
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake until lightly browned, @ 12 to 14 minutes ( depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them) Let them cool on the pans. Carefully remove off the pans and store in an airtight container.

** If you  do not have a cookie press you can roll aout the dough and cut strips with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Or you can make small cookies. Just flatten slightly and adjust the cook time.