Category Archives: Cooking

Homemade Cream Soup Substitute

Alright….I’m slowly straying away from canned foods. This includes “cream of ___ soup” that is so commonly used in recipes. I’m a casserole girl. Love ’em. Cream of “whatever” soup is so necessary in American cooking….so I found a substitute using ingredients I always have on hand!

fontcandy.pngYeah, I’m not willing to pay for any apps so I can’t remove that watermark in the corner…anyway…back to the recipe…

Cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery, you get the picture. 

It takes about 10 minutes.

One batch equals one 10.75 oz can of cream of ___ soup. 

Here’s what you need:
-2 Tablespoons butter (I use unsalted)
-3 Tablespoons flour
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but you can also use 1% or whole)
-1/4 teaspoon salt (you can also use garlic salt!)
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Here’s what you do:

  1. Measure everything out, since you’ll need it ready to pour when it’s time. 
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Whisk in the flour. It will become a clump that looks like Play-Doh. Let it cook, stirring it around, for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly stir in chicken broth. This is where I had to use a spatula to scrape the flour mixture out of the bottom edges….
  5. Slowly stir in milk.
  6. Whisk until it begins to thicken….it takes a few minutes.
  7. Let it simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally
  8. Add the salt and pepper and STIR. 
  9. Add to your recipe of whatever you’re making!

It’s that easy! 
Here are some pics of my process. 

Gathering the goodness….

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And when you add the flour, it gets lumpy like this and can get stuck up in the whisk….just shake it off…

And add the liquid and stir….I had to use a spatula here to get the flour mixture out of the edges…

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Add the rest, and let it thicken!

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Enjoy! Let me know how yours turns out!

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Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups

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Delicious. Take a look at that. Yes, I like a lot of cheese. You don’t have to add so much. But I love it. If you want some tasty Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups, here’s how you do it!

You will need:

  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (go here to see how I do mine quickly and easily)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (yes, you can use black pepper)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (no, you don’t have to use whole wheat – but why not?)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce of your choice (I always use SimplyNature Marinara from Aldi)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Put noodles on to cook, according to package directions
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. In a medium bowl, combine shredded chicken, cheeses, milk, and pepper
  4. In a 13×9-inch baking dish, spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce
  5. Spread a little less than 1/2 cup of the chicken and cheese mixture on each lasagna noodle
  6. Roll in a jelly-roll like fashion….
  7. Arrange lasagna noodles seam-side down in baking dish on top of the pasta sauce
  8. Top with remaining pasta sauce
  9. Sprinkle feta cheese on each lasagna roll
  10. Cover with foil
  11. Bake for 30 minutes
  12. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese. 

I sprinkle the extra Parmesan on right before serving. The ones I saved as leftovers don’t have the Parmesan on them yet – I sprinkle it on after I reheat it. It’s best that way. 

Also, a side note on the lasagna noodles. When they were done cooking I took them off the burner but left them in the water. I took them out one at a time to put the mixture on them and roll them. That way they didn’t get all sticky together while they waited their turn. 

Here are some pictures of the process!

This is the 1 cup of pasta sauce spread on the bottom of the pan. 

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This is how I spread the mixture. I took 2 noodles out and worked on the one closest to me while the one farther away cooled. After I rolled the filled one, I turned over the one farther from me and put it closest to me to work on next, and took the next noodle out of the pan (that still has the noodles and water in it) and let it start to cool while I worked on the one closest to me.

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Here it is right before I covered it with foil to put it in the oven.

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The deliciousness covered in the Parmesan cheese, about to be consumed!

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Enjoy!

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The Easiest Way to Shred Chicken

Seriously. The easiest way to shred chicken. I used to use 2 forks to shred my chicken and it took so long. Not any more!

First, cook chicken breasts on high in Crock Pot for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours with whatever seasonings you want.

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2. Place in Kitchen Aid mixer and mix for about 1 minute, until all is shredded!

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There you go! Easy, right? I told you. 

Make sure the chicken is warm when you are shredding it!

Here’s a video if you so desire…

Now go shred all the chicken!

If you’re looking for a good recipe to use your shredded chicken in, here you go!

Click here to see how to make Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups

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Peanut Butter Blondies

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Yum, yum, yum! I’m at home and I have a lot of work to do. I’m a teacher. As my friend Cara put it: “yea, your job never ends.”

But I don’t want to do it…so I go to Pinterest to see what I want to cook this coming week so I can make a grocery list. You see, I used to be on Pinterest WAY TOO OFTEN. So now I have tons of stuff pinned! But in the past 6 months or so, I haven’t really pinned much, I mostly just go there to make, do, and use all of the pins I have already! It’s so great. 

So, I ended up on my dessert board somehow, and wanted to bake something all of a sudden. I needed to find something I already had all the ingredients for – and there it was! Peanut Butter Blondies!

They turned out SO GOOD and they were delightfully easy to make, so I wanted to share with y’all! Even the edges are delicious, which is totally key. They are soft in the middle – so perfect!

So, here you go!

To make the peanut butter blondies, you will need:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray 8×8 baking dish cooking spray. Just let that wait, now…
  3. In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid with my scraper bowl attachment), combine the melted butter and light brown sugar. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Mix in the peanut butter and make sure all of the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  6. Add in the salt and flour.
  7. Spread the batter in the baking dish and spread out evenly with a plastic spatula.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I set my timer for 20 minutes, but it wasn’t quite done. So I set the timer for 5 more minutes…but I was busy when the timer went off, so it was more like 27 minutes. 
  9. Let it cool A LOT before you cut it. It can be a little bit warm, but don’t do it when it’s still so hot or else they will fall apart. 
  10. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

This can maybe show you how thick the batter is….when you put it in, it’s in a big pile and you just have to spread it around.

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I had to spread it smoothly before it went into the oven…

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Because as soon as it comes out, it has the same pattern as when you put it in! Well, I can see it. Pretty cool.

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My first taste was delicious….I love my little pig spatula!

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Delicious! 

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Monkey Cupcakes

july1 086Aren’t they so cute??

If you know someone who loves monkeys, these cupcakes would be PERFECT for them!

Bonus: They are SO easy!

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Here’s what you need:

  • 24 cupcakes (any flavor)
  • chocolate icing
  • white icing (only about 1/2 cup)
  • red food coloring
  • mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • Mini Nilla Wafers
  • Nilla Wafers
  • sandwich size Ziplock bag or piping set
  • Black gel icing

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Put some red food coloring into the white icing, This will be used to create the mouth later on. 
  2. Cut the tip 1/4 off of the Nilla Wafers. If you look at my picture, I didn’t cut them in half. Just cut off about 1/4. This will be the mouth area. You will need 24 total (1 for each monkey cupcake).
  3. Cut 1/3 off of the Mini Nilla Wafers. Again, look at my picture, you don’t want them in half exactly. These will be the ears. You will need 48 total (2 for each monkey cupcake).
  4. Frost the cupcakes with the chocolate icing. 
  5. Put a Nilla Wafer on the bottom for the mouth area. 
  6. Put 2 Mini Nilla Wafers on for the ears. I don’t lay them flat on, I put the cut side in at an angle so they stick up a little bit. july1 082
  7. Use mini chocolate chips or black gel icing to make eyes on the chocolate icing. 
  8. Use the black gel icing to make 2 nostrils on the top of the Nilla Wafer
  9. july1 083Put the red icing into the Ziplock bag and cut a little bit off of the corner. Not too big!!! Or, alternatively, use a piping set. 
  10. Put various mouth designs on the monkeys! Have fun!

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Go forth and share the monkey goodness!!

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Juicing

So, I bought a juicer

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Not to detox. 

Not to cleanse.

Not to lose weight. 

Simply because I got tired of having the same kind of juice for a week in a row. 

Every week I would buy Simply Apple or Simply Orange and would have that every morning for a week. Well, 5 days a week. I take a small bottle of it to work every morning to drink as I start my day.

But I got tired of having apple juice for 5 days in a row, or orange juice for 5 days in a row, so I bought a juicer!

My friend Teo was just here visiting for a month, and I bought the juicer after she left…unfortunately. She’s all about fresh juice, and I totally regret not buying this before she came. But hey, it’ll be here the next time she comes!

My first try at using it, honestly…I cried. Not happy tears. The oranges I bought were GROSS. I bought them in a bag. The one on the bottom was moldy, and the two that I opened were mushy. I threw the whole bag away and cried. Yes, I can be dramatic. But it’s how I felt. 

I no longer buy the oranges in bags. I buy large navel oranges. 

Round 2: Gala apples. MISTAKE. Not delicious to my tastebuds.

The apples you see below are Pink Lady or Washington or something like that. No more Gala for juicing. 

Round 3: Navel oranges. WIN. WIN. WIN. SO DELICIOUS. All the oranges below are large navel oranges.

Let me share with you some of my favorite juice combinations. If you’re wondering what will help you lose weight, detox, or otherwise improve various parts of your lifestyle, go to Pinterest. I just combine different things until I find what I like. 

Oh, and that Simply Apple bottle in all the pictures? That’s what I refill to bring my juice to work every day. Perfect size. I have 2. 

3 oranges

Orange

2 oranges + 10 strawberries

Orange Strawberry

1 apple + 1 orange + 1 carrot

Carrot Orange Apple

strawberries + pineapple

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1 apple + 2 kiwis + 10 strawberries

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2 oranges + 1 nectarine

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I tried adding beets. NO. Dirt. 

I tried adding celery. Not bad. Just not a favorite. Quite overpowering.

I tried adding grapefruit. Eew. Not for me. I gave the rest to my friend Reesa. 

My friend Reesa juices for nutrients. She adds lots of greens and such. Basically whatever is in her fridge. She thinks it’s delicious. If that’s your style, go for it!

I juice for taste. Yum.

My friend Teo says I’ll have withdrawals when I go stay with her this summer, since she doesn’t have a juicer. I say that I lived 25 and a half years without a juicer, I can live without it again! Yet she was at the store looking at juicers today. I know she would use it often, since she loves fresh juice. Juicers are just way more expensive in Romania. Lame. 

Update: Teo bought a juicer! She found a super powerful one that was inexpensive and bought it on a whim! She went home and juiced a ton of stuff…and loved it. I’m so happy for her!

But let’s be honest…being able to make the kind of juice I’m in the mood for is quite convenient. 

If you want to see some juice recipes from both  my style and Reesa’s style, check out our shared Pinterest board!

Pretty much the only good thing (as far as I can see) about my transmission needing rebuilt was that most of that cost was put on my Amazon Rewards credit card…and I got a ton of Amazon points, and I was able to get this juicer (and this for my Kitchen Aid!!) for free with my points. Win. The ONLY win. I think. 

FRESH JUICE FO’ DAYS.

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

My mom made these all the time when I was younger, and I still love them!

If you like peanut butter, you will love these. And that is the reason why my best friend Teo would NOT love these…she’s not a peanut butter gal. As for me, I could eat them all!

When I was in high school, I would make 2 batches of them, put them in a big Tupperware, and bring them to school to share with all my friends and teachers. Yep. I was THAT girl. 

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Here’s what you need:
 2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter*
3 cups rolled oats

*I prefer to use smooth peanut butter, but I have used crunchy before. Even some of both!

Here’s what you do:
1. Boil sugar, milk, butter, and salt for 1 minute
2. Remove from heat
3. Add vanilla and peanut butter
4. Stir until smooth
5. Add oats
6. Stir
7. Cool until it holds shape
8. Drop onto wax paper
9. Let them cool for about an hour
10. EAT THE AMAZING THINGS

Makes 35-45 cookies, depending on how big you make them.

Store in an airtight container, with wax paper between each layer of cookies. 

Stirring process…

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All out to cool…

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The leftovers…I get a little rubber spatula and eat it all with some milk to drink!

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And then, enjoy!

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