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Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm Still Here!

I promise I'm still here guys!  I've been working quite a but lately and everyday life just catches up with me.  I'm still cooking (experimenting) but I'll do a post soon.  If y'all would like to see anything in particular or have question,  I'd be glad to answer; whether it be about budgeting, couponing, cooking, or anything else.  

I also noticed that my pageviews are almost to 1000!  That is insane!!!  (Most of them are probably just me...haha)  Anyhow--I want to do a giveaway of some stuff I've canned but we'll get to that when it gets closer to time.  ;) 

Check back tomorrow or Monday for new posts!  

Have a Happy Easter with your families!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hashbrown & Egg Cups

I was home yesterday and started flipping through the channels on the TV.  I came across the Food Network channel and saw that The Pioneer Woman was on.  I've never watched her show but I a sweet lady I work with mentioned that she likes it and she seems to have fairly easy kind of woman.  Anyhow...she a Sunday brunch menu plan for the day and one of her recipes was for Hashbrown & Egg Cups.  They looked easy and scrumptious!  Here's the recipe:

hashbrowns (I used frozen, but she used shredded baked potatoes)
salt and pepper
cooking spray
6 eggs

Spray your muffin pan with Pam (I used a half dozen pan), and fill with hashbrowns.  Make a nest in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Pop in the oven for around 20 minutes. at 400 degrees. Allow them to cool then put an egg (cracked, of course) in each muffin hole with your hashbrowns and sprinkle a little more salt and pepper.  Bake for around 18 minutes.  Less if you want runny eggs, more if you want over hard.  

Verdict:  really good!  I only made 6 and the HB ate 4...Pretty successful if you ask me because he can be quite picky.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Random Ramblings & Busy Days

Hello all!  I have not forgot about you, I promise.  I'm at a loss of thought on posts so any suggestions would be appreciated. Here's an update to what I've been up to the past few days.  My seedlings that I planted about a month ago have really taken off and I've planted my green beans and purple hull peas in their containers.  They are patiently waiting upstairs until I can get them outside.  The iceberg lettuce I planted didn't like my seedling trays so I planted some in another container and they are hanging out in the kitchen looking gorgeous.  The peppers and carrots are sprouting nicely and they too are awaiting the warmer weather.

Yesterday was a lazy day filled with basketball and a trip to Home Depot.  The HB is going to make me a hot plate out of my wine corks and some picture frame wood I picked up at Michael's on clearance a while back.  I'll do a post on that when he gets around to making it.  He's a busy man ya know.

Today was spent making a delicious sweet potato pie for my neighbors who had never had one before.  You can find the recipe from   They seemed very pleased when I stopped over.  We'll see what their feedback was.  I'm curious!  I also spent the day canning more chicken broth that I made yesterday.  The freezer is filling up fast with chicken bones and leftover veggies.  Knitting is on my list of things to start as well.  I found a tutorial for some cute baby Mary Jane's that I'm ecstatic to start working on!

Making a menu plan was also on my list of things to do for the week.  Today was Mexican chicken casserole with corn in butter sauce (Green Giant makes a delicious side dish).  Tuesday: breakfast night (bacon with hash brown egg cups); Wednesday: bacon wrapped filet minion's in the crockpot with onion soup mix and stew veggies; Thursday: fried chicken with mashed potatoes and 30 minutes rolls.  Friday: eat out night!

I'm sure some blog posts will come out of a lot of these meals.  I watched The Pioneer Woman today and she had some amazingly easy recipes such as the hash brown and egg cups that I'll show y'all how to make.  

Hope y'all had a fantastic weekend!  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mini Chicken Pot Pie

One of mine and the HB's favorite meals is chicken pot pie.  My best friend gave me this recipe a couple of years ago and its just one of those really good comfort food meals.  I don't know about you but there's not many things much better than a hot chicken pot pie on a cold snowy night.  Yep, you heard me right. March... 

2 pie crust
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of potato
2 chicken breasts
1 cup milk
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 veg all


Drain can of veg-all and put in the bottom of the pie crust.  Top with shredded chicken.  In a saucepan, mix cornstarch, "cream" of soups, chicken broth, and milk and heat until thick.  Pour over chicken and place other pie crust on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  This filling makes enough for 2 pies. 

Normally I would just use a pie dish but tonight I was using leftover filling from the last time I made this and decided to make 4 mini chicken pot pies.

Note:  If you are trying to get away from all of the processed food here are some changes that you can make using items you probably already have in your kitchen.  

Make your own cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and pie crust.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tracking Your Spending

If you all are anything like me I HATE budgeting.  I want to be able to buy what I want to buy when I want to buy it!  BUT in this day and age it's kind of crucial to budget with prices of everything rising and those dreaded bills that just have to be paid.  My friend over at did a post the other day on her way of controlling her spending and I think I might try my hand at her way.  I've got my grocery budget under control using my coupon tracker but everything else is just crazy.  I don't know about y'all but I get "click" happy when I see a "good" deal online.  My weakness is internet shopping.  I mean, it's so easy to click "Buy" and have something show up at your door.  *SIGH*

Let me know what your budgeting solutions are.  Do you have any methods that work best for you?

Check out my friend's post on her budget method and let me know what you think! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Glitter & Chevron

Now, I know today is St. Paddy's Day and most people were partyin' it up but all I felt like doing today was lounging around in my pj's and doing some crafts (okay, one craft) that I've been dying to do.  I first saw this pink chevron canvas on Pinterest and fell in love.  I thought to myself: I have to have this in my house.  Sooner rather than later.  So I pinned it and went back to it this morning only to find that it wasn't a was just a picture.  NNNNOOOOOOO!  So anyways, I got out this half curved ruler and a pencil and my canvas and decided I would just figure out how to do it myself.  How hard can making a chevron pattern be?  Pretty effing hard seeing as how it took me 3 hours to make this darn thing! Anyhow: here's my way of doing it!  Hopefully it won't take you as long!

Supplies you'll need:

craft paint (whatever color you like) 
glitter (Martha Stewart has the best colors)
canvas (I used a 16x20 I got at Michael's for 50% off)
1" foam brush
mod podge
masking tape

I started out by measuring 3 inches up from the bottom of the canvas and drew a small line. I continued this step on the right side and the center of the canvas.  I had to ask the HB how to explain these directions because I just kinda drew lines until it looked right.  His directions were to take the width of the canvas (mine was 16") and divide that by 5 (because there are 5 points in one line). Once you get that first line down, it's easy peasy from there.

From every point on the first line, I measured 3 inches up and made a small dash.  From there you can connect your lines to make the chevron pattern.  

Once you've got your lines drawn, you want to tape off all of your lines with 1" masking tape.  Remember that you are going to be skipping a stripe so make note on what stripe you want your paint and what stripe you want your glitter.  You're going to be alternating them. (Paint, plain stripe, glitter, plain stripe, paint, plain stripe, glitter, plain stripe)

You may have to paint a few coats to get it the color you want.  

Once your paint drys, paste on your mod podge and sprinkle your glitter.  Use an old paintbrush to help distribute the glitter along the stripe.  Caution: You may want to do this part outside when it's warm because this gets messy!

And there you have it, your own Chevron canvas!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

This has become mine and the HB's most favorite. recipe. ever.  One day he sent me a text and was like "let's do buffalo chicken pizza for supper".  This never ever.  Usually our morning conversations go (me):" What do you want to do for supper?" (HB): "I don't know. What sounds good to you?". This is every day. ARGH! I really should start doing a menu plan.  Future blog post, maybe?!?!

Anyhow.  I ended up making this awfully hard 5 ingredient recipe and it was THA BOMB! Do people still say the bomb?  Well I just did.

I prefer to make my pizza crust because honestly it doesn't take that long and that mess that Pillsbury makes is no bueno!  Your taste buds will thank you, I promise.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
pizza crust
2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 oz Frank's Red Hot (or any buffalo sauce you like)
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
12 oz (or 1 small bottle) ranch dressing
8oz mozzarella cheese

450 degrees for 12-15 minutes

First thing you want to do is take your cubed (cooked) chicken breasts and toss them in the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and Franks Red Hot.  (An easy way to cook your chicken (frozen) is to place in the crockpot, add 1 cup water, and cook on low for 8 hours.)

Cover your pizza crust with the ranch dressing and top with the Frank's covered chicken.   Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and place in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it because the time may differ depending on your oven.  

This recipe was adapted from

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplins'

After a long day of dealing with a sewing machine that will not become threaded, I'm having a glass o' wine.  I've come to the conclusion that it is unthreadable until I can get my trustie over at to Skype me and walk me through it.  Me and directions simply don't get along when it comes to this kind of stuff.  Let's get on to these chicken and dumplins!

Chicken and Dumplins

2 large chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Cook Time:
Low for 8 hours, High for 5 hours

I always start out by spraying my crockpot with Pam.  Place your chicken breasts and butter in your crockpot.

Pour in cream of chicken soups, chicken broth, and parsley. Cook on low for 7 1/2 hours or high for 4 1/2 hours.  

Cut up 4 Grand's biscuits into 8 pieces (cut each biscuit into 8 pieces) and toss into the crockpot when you've got about 30 minutes left.  Grand's Homestyle variety makes the best dumplins from what I've noticed.  


I forgot to take a picture of the grand finale but this is what was left after the HB and I got through eating. That's some finger lickin good food if you ask me!

Note: Just in case you all were worried about my sewing machine, I was able to get it threaded!!  Now to figure out how to hem these pants.......  Another adventure for another day!

Poochie Bells

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days.  Apparently folks gotta work and that leads to no time for blogging.  On a brighter note, most of you know that a new puppy was introduced to our sweet, perfect family of 3 (the HB, me & the puppers) about 2 months ago.  Well...potty training the puppers was pretty much a breeze...sort of...but this new little fella is a challenge.  

We FINALLY bought some Poochie Bells and I must say, they are working out pretty good.  He hasn't completely gotten the routine down but this is only day 3 of our little project.  I recommend them to anyone trying to potty training a hard headed cute little puppy.

I promise to start posting more so be sure to check out my Chicken & Dumplings post tonight!

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Do you have a bottle of vodka on hand? Of course you do.  Who doesn't have vodka in their house?  It's like a kitchen staple, right?  Right.  

For this all you need is vodka (cheap is good in this situation) and some vanilla beans.  Don't go to your grocery store and buy vanilla beans because you're going to spend out the wazoo for them.  I found mine at amazon and they were priced pretty reasonably for what you get.

Super complicated directions as follows:

I took 4 half pint mason jars and put 3 whole vanilla beans (you want to slice them about 3/4 down the bean down the middle but make sure not to cut all the way through the bean) in them.  I filled it to the 1/2 inch head space line with vodka and put the tops on.  You want to keep them in a cool, dry place and make sure to shake them once a week.  After about 3 months you should have some vanilla extract! Strain and put it in a cute little jar and VOILA! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Couponing 101--The Filing Method

Would you love to coupon but thinks it takes up way too much time?  Does the thought of clipping every coupon in the Sunday paper freak you out?  Do you think your stores don't have good enough deals to coupon?  What about all that stuff you see about stockpiling at the drug stores yet you don't have a drug store in your town?  Fear no more!  I'm here to help!  Well...I'll try to at least.  

One reason I started this blog was to help people save money like my favorite coupon bloggers have helped me. This is my method of organization:  The Filing Method.

This is my filing method and it takes far less time than the binder method which has you clip all the coupons and file them under several different categories.  (Pay no attention to the tabs that are on the accordion, they were for a previous project.)

I buy at least 3-4 Sunday papers and the first thing I do when I get home is write the date on them and they go in my file organizer.  Another place I get my coupons is  This is a great source for coupons and you don't have to leave your home to get them!  Grocery store deals start in my area start on Wednesday and end on Tuesday; Drug Store deals start on Sunday and end on Saturday; Wal*Mart & Target deals start on Sunday and end on Saturday.

The coupon database is my best friend and Collin over at Hip2Save helps me out so much! Hers was the first site I used 3 years ago and it's still my favorite coupon site to this day.  Okay, back to saving!  So once I circle what I think I'm gonna need that week for my meals, I type in the products there might be coupons for into the coupon database and it will tell you if there is a coupon for that particular item and also tell you what insert it is in.  From there I clip that certain coupon and file it in my smaller accordion so I'll have it when I get to the store. 

My filer that is always with me
On average I spend maybe 2 hours a week looking through the deals and clipping my coupons for the grocery store and drug stores.  I think anybody can spare a couple of hours to save a ton of money.  I know I probably didn't answer all of your questions here in this post but it's a lot to take in if you're a beginner couponer and it can be overwhelming so it's best to take baby steps.

Happy Couponing!

Rendering Lard

Okay, this is way before my time but I saw one of my favorite blog ladies do a post on this and it inspired me greatly.  I feel like the people of my generation are so out of touch with how to live life like back in the day.  Most of us would be lost if something happened to where we didn't have access to a grocery store 24/7.  This post sort of hit home for me because it shows that you can be self sufficient and still live in the city.  

I know there are some of you that may think I'm crazy for this but I think it's genius and I'll be forever grateful for the knowledge that I've learned from doing this particular process.

You can use this lard as an alternative for your cooking oil and I've heard it's to die for when you use it to replace shortening or butter in your pie crusts.

First thing you need for this is pig fat.  I got mine at a local butcher shop for .99 a lb (I bought a little over 5 lbs) but if you know somebody that is butchering hogs, they may be willing to give the fat away.  You want to make sure you cut all the meat off the fat and set it aside.  (I keep mine and just toss it back in the freezer because you never know when you might need it for something else.) Cut your fat into 1/2 inch pieces and toss them in your crockpot.  Once you've got it in the crockpot, turn it on low and you'll want to stir every 15-20 minutes.

This is the gorgeousness that you will be cooking down AKA rendering. This process took me about 4 1/2 hours but it was well worth it.

Lard rendering

Once it's cooked down you'll start seeing all this liquid gold.  At this point you can grab a couple mason jars (for every lb of fat you'll have a pint of lard) and start straining it through cheesecloth or coffee filters and then ladling into your Mason jars.  This is what my set-up looks like:

Strainer lined with coffee filter on top of a canning funnel
Kinda ghetto?  Maybe, but it works!  

Here is what I ended up with.  1 quart and a little less than a pint of lard.  

The jar in front is a magical jar of goodies called cracklins'.  This is what's left at the bottom of your crockpot when there's no more fat to be rendered.  You can use these babies in cornbread or just sprinkle some salt on them and eat them right there.  

And there you have it folks!  A trip back to good ole' days!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Canning Chicken Broth

In my last post, I discussed with y'all how to make chicken broth.  In this post, I am going to show you how to can chicken broth.  Canning food is awesome alternative for food preservation and it saves room on freezer and fridge space.  I started canning last year and I love the feeling of knowing that I can store food in my cabinets for years at a time and not have to worry about running to the grocery for "fresh" veggies that aren't in season.  It has become a wonderful addiction that will stick with me for the rest of my life. 

Note: The basic tools you'll need when canning food are a pressure canner, (or a water bath canner if you're doing jellies, jams, pickles, etc), a jar lifter, bubble remover/headspace tool, magnetic lid lifter, and a jar funnel.  (They come in one set so you don't have to buy each piece individually. I got mine at Wal-Mart.)

Okay, back to chicken broth.  When canning chicken broth you need a pressure canner because it is a low-acid food.  It needs to be canned at 10 lbs of pressure for 20 minutes (pints) or 25 minutes (quarts).

So let's get started!

First thing you're going to do is take the broth you previously strained and bring it to a boil in a large pot.  As you're doing this, you want to get your lids and rings near boiling and start heating your clean jars.

  To do this, simply toss your rings and lids into a smaller pot of water and almost bring to a boil.  You want to heat the seals on the lids but you don't want the water to be too much.  (I put my burner between 5 & 6 and they are fine.)

I heat my jars by putting them in an oven preheated at 170 degrees.  This keeps my jars warm while I'm preparing the rest of the steps which you will see below.  Normally when I can broth I use quart size jars, but because I only had pints on hand I used those.  This size is also handy to have in case you come across a recipe that only needs 1 or 2 cups of broth.

One picture that is not shown is the water in the pressure canner.  When you're using a pressure canner you want to fill it with 2-3 inches of water.  I usually start heating the water in the pressure canner when I put my jars in the oven because you don't want to put hot jars in cold water (nor do you want to put cold jars in hot water which is why we heat them first) because they may crack.  Then you'll be left with a nasty mess and have the process all over.  Not a good thing at all.

These are the basic tools you'll need when canning so make sure you have these right by you during the next step.  By now your chicken broth should be at a boil so you'll want to turn that off and start filling your jars.  Make sure you use your jar funnel and you'll want to leave 1/2 inch headspace.  1/2 inch headpsace means that you'll fill your broth til it hits the first line you come to towards the top of the jar. 

Once you've filled your jars, you want to take your bubble remover tool and remove all air bubble your broth may contain.  Keep in mind that you do not want to use any kind of metal product (butter knife in particular)  because the metal may drastically change the flavor of the broth.  

Take a clean wet rag and wipe off any broth that may have spilled on the rims of the jars.  This part is also crucial because if your have any grease or broth on the rims, your lids may not seal properly which will lead to an unsuccessful canning project and nobody's got time for that. 

Use that awesome magnetic jar lifter to lift your lids out of your water and place them on the jars.

Place your rings on your jars.  You only want to finger tighten these.

Place your hot jars into your hot pressure canner using your jar lifter.  Now, make sure you grab the plastic part of this tool and let the rubber part grab the jar because the first few times I did this it was very challenging.  Just remember that folks.  Once you've filled your canner it will look like this:

Put the lid on. Now here comes the fun part!

Turn your heat up (mine us usually turned up to 8) and let the pressure build until a steady flow of steam is constant for 10 minutes.  In the picture below you can see the steam if you look close.  

Once your steam has been steady for 10 minutes you want to put your pressure gauge on.  Remember it needs to be canned at 10lbs of pressure (there are 3 rings that come with this pressure canner and you use the bottom 2).  

When your pressure gauge starts to rock back and forth gently and gets into a steady rhythm, that's when you want to start your timer. If your pressure gauge is rocking too fiercely, slowly turn your heat down.  Mine never ends up going below 7.   Process this for 20 minutes (I am using pint jars).  Once the timer is up turn the heat off and let the pressure slowly go down in your pressure canner.  This takes a little while so be patient. 

Once your pressure goes down, take the pressure gauge off (if you take it off too soon it will hiss at you, put it back on and check back later) and let it sit for 15 minutes.  

Pay no attention to me in this picture.  It was getting late and we had a snow day--don't judge.  Anyhow--these gloves are very important.  When you take the lid off make sure the top of the lid is facing you.  You do not want the steam to hit your face or your hands cause it hurts

Take your jars out using your jar lifter and sit them on a folded towel and listen for the PING! After about an hour if your jars haven't "pinged" press down on the center of the lid.  If they pop back at you it means they didn't seal and they need to go in the fridge to be used before the others. It's rare to not have a jar seal if you followed the directions. 

And your done!  This is a timely process but completely worth it.  Hope you enjoy!