Oct 4

As much as I love my bread machine and all it’s uses, sometimes it’s not always needed. Beer bread happens to be one of those odd recipes where it’s just too darn easy to make in the oven.

Now usually I buy a mix at a certain craft show every year, but the thought has occurred to me that this is really dumb. All that’s in those boxes are dry ingredients I have at home. I’m already buying the butter and the beer, so why not just make this all the way from scratch?

I poked around for some recipes, but all seem to lack baking soda and use self rising flour. No good. I do know this regular mix includes more than just flower and sugar, so I pieced together my own recipe based on several. And here it is:

Beer Bread
3 cups bread flour
3 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Baking soda
1/4 cup Sugar
12 fl Beer; any kind
1/4 c Butter; melted

You’ll want to mix the dry ingredients together first, then add the beer in. This batter will be VERY sticky. Grease a bread pan and pour batter in, then top with 1/4 c melted butter. Bake at 350* for 1 hour.


Sep 3

Maybe it’s because of my upbringing, but I never could understand the concept of a meal in a box.

Once in a great while, I’ll wander down the “box dinner” section of the store, and pick up something that’s “super easy to make and ready in 30 mins or less”. However, I still have failed to see the real purpose of them, other than cleaver marketing.

We made a hamburger helper  beef stroganoff only once. After having to cook the hamburger and add a few other ingredients, I stood scratching my head as to WHY I bought basically the pasta and seasoning in a pretty box when I could have spent the same amount of money (or less) and time doing it from scratch. (Which we have ever since - see our Hamburger Beef Stroganoff recipe here)

Just a month or two ago, I got curious again about the boxes. As you may already know, we have a bread machine that is used on a very regular basis. A box for a wheat bread mix jumped out at me in the store, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Again, I was quite disappointed as I had to add a few of my own ingredients and it was nothing really special (we’ve had better bread from our own recipe collection).

So what about you? Do you use box dinners at all, or are you like me and questioned their purposes?

Apr 16

One of our grocery store chains around here is pretty well known for their nice selection of meats. It’s always fresh, and they do an excellent job with the variety too. So when I’m in need of meat (which I always am, normally I start supper with some form of meat and go from there), I’ll go to this particular store.

The other day after getting the basics (chicken breast, roast, hamburger, hot sausage in various forms, steak, and a few other specialty items), I spotted turkey breasts. You know, like raw. Not sliced into sandwich meat and packaged or even a whole turkey, but just the breasts like you would see chicken. This looked fun to me.

I got to thinking about why we don’t cook with turkey more often. Is it because after Thanksgiving we just don’t want anything to do with it? Or is it because it’s best in lunch meat form? But then again, why are we just limiting ourselves to two very boring recipes? Well, I had to grab what I spotted at the store because I was going to try out something NEW which I’m just sure would be fantastic.

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of recipes for turkey breasts out there, and in our massive collection I’ve only gathered a handful thus far. One in particular, though, really looked good to me. Of the small handful of turkey recipes, this happens to be the only one that uses turkey breasts. Lucky for me it sounds good. We haven’t tried it just yet, but you can see it here: Cranberry Apple Turkey Breast


Apr 13

While I’ve been on a major kick trying new recipes out left and right, it’s always nice to fall back to our regular menu as well. I thought I would take a day and post our tried and true favorites that have been posted on the blog over the past few years.

Beef Stroganoff
Always a favorite, even if it’s not the traditional form. Think of it as the Hamburger Helper version, only made from scratch and large enough to actually feed the entire family.

What family doesn’t eat this on a regular basis? Although I think we make it at home MUCH more than we order it. Everyone loves what has been dubbed the “mountain pizza”.

If you are making the meat right, you’ll have a hard time guessing it’s not from your favorite taco joint. In fact, when we actually do go out to a taco restaurant, my oldest orders something like nachos because he knows the best tacos are at home. ;-)

I love steak, so this is one of those at least once a month meals. I hate messing with a grill, so it’s always cooked on the stove with a flat griddle-like pan. Of course, you have to make mashed potatoes with them too.

Hot Wings
I’ve been known, on many occasions, to make a meal out of hot wings.  Actually, what I do is cook up all the chicken and only put the hot sauce on mine. I LOVE hot wings and have no problem making them a main meal!

Cold Veggie Pizza
This use to be something I made all the time, but as the kids have gotten older they’ve started protesting vegetables as a main dish. It’s still something I make from time to time, but has been reduced to a side dish or something that’s made along side another dish such as pasta (my daughter loves veggies and hates pasta, where my son is just the opposite, so this dish works perfect with pasta).

Chicken Fried Rice
Here’s another recipe I use to make A LOT, but haven’t made in awhile. Probably because it’s a whole lot of work putting all the “pieces” together. Plus we haven’t had chicken leftovers in awhile. But I’m thinking it’s  time to make chicken followed by this recipe.

That’s about it for our specific meal ideas, but you can always see more on Idea Queen under “Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas“.

Apr 9

Before I jump into the recipe, let me first tell you a story. I know I’m probably among the minority here, but I’m just sick to death of the fundraising companies taking advantage of the schools. The last fundraiser our PTO did was for butter braids, despite my protest they were charging WAY too much. The butter braids were being sold for $12, and the company was giving only $5 of that to the school (IF we sold over a certain amount, which I don’t believe we did, so ended up with LESS). Yes, the company’s profit from those simple breads was at least $7 per, while the school got only $5.

I thought these prices were just beyond insane, and my ranting only increased when I saw very similar butter braids at the local grocery store for $4.50. My jaw dropped, and I was even more disgusted.

So I went on a quest to find an even cheaper way to do these tasty treats. I’m just going to make my own! Now I will warn you though - you need a bread machine to mix the dough. I’m sure you could do it by hand, but it’s SO much easier to have a bread machine. (Again, if you don’t have one, see this post)

First you’ll need my awesome cinnamon roll recipe (and by “my” I mean I’ve claimed this, not invented it. This recipe was given to me awhile back). Here’s the dough for the base of the bread:

Butter Braid Bread Base

3/4 c water
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
6 Tbs sugar
1/4 c butter (softened)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs dry milk
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Add to bread machine and set on “dough” cycle. Cut dough in half to make two breads. Roll each out into a rectangle. Add your fillings (see below for options) in the center of each dough, leaving space on the edges. Cut 1 inch strips on the sides from edge to center. Fold in and tuck under strips to give a braided appearance (see picture here, although I tuck mine under a little more than what’s pictured).

Let rise for 45 minutes. Bake at 375 for 15- 20 minutes or until light brown. Add frosting or glaze (see options below).
Now for all the options. You can use any combination of the following, but to make them just like the butter braids you see in stores, I’ve tried to organize them a bit.

Option 1

Filling Options for Cream Cheese Frosting:

- Apple Pie Filling
- Cherry Pie Filling
- Blueberry Pie Filling
- Peach Pie Filling

Basically any type of pie fillings will do, and those listed above are best with the cream cheese frosting on the top.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4oz Cream Cheese
2 Tbs Butter
3 Tbs Powdered Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt cream cheese and butter together. Add vanilla and powdered sugar.

Option 2

Fillings for Glaze:

- Cinnamon (1/4 c melted butter, 1/3 c brown sugar,1 tsp cinnamon)
- Jam or Jelly

Glaze Recipe

1 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbs milk

Mix together, adding milk as needed.
That’s it! The fun part of this recipe is trying out different fillings and toppings for the bread and coming up with completely different breads each time.

Apr 6

My kids are a big fan of cinnamon rolls, and I haven’t been able to eat one that’s not homemade since I was given this recipe. It is for the bread machine, so if you don’t have one, see this post on why it’s a must in your kitchen.

Cinnamon Rolls

3/4 c water
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
6 Tbs sugar
1/4 c butter (softened)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs dry milk
1 1/2 tsp yeast

1/4 c butter (melted)
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Optional - 1/2 c raisins

1 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbs milk

Add first ingredients to bread machine, using dough setting. Roll out onto large pan in a rectangle, spreading the filling over. Roll up from short side, then cut in 1 inch rolls (by now you should have what looks like a cinnamon roll).

Place on greased pan (I like to use my stone pizza pan) and let rise for 45 mins. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Drizzle topping over hot cinnamon rolls and let cool.

My kids LOVE this recipe and you can do a lot of different things with it. Right now I’m experimenting with butter braids using this recipe as a base and looking for fun fillings to go with it. ;-)

Mar 27

So if you haven’t gotten the hint already, I love my bread machine. LOVE IT. And I have loved it for quite a few years. I don’t know what we ever did without it, and sometimes I think I use it more than the microwave.

Just in case you aren’t sure if you need one or not, let me give you a run down of some of the things we’ve made in the last few months alone.

1. Bread
Duh, right? Yes, we make bread in the bread machine. But we make lots of it on a regular basis. Which if that alone isn’t a good reason for you, think of this - we’ve given loaves of bread for gifts before, and they loved it. We also eat bread minus the nasty preservatives in store bought (did you know there’s high fructose corn syrup in it? So much for “in moderation” when it’s even in bread of all things!).

2. Bread Sticks
You know the tasty little things that go good with pasta. Yup, we make those in a bread machine. Well, the dough to be exact. The dough setting has come in handy more than once.

3. Cinnamon Rolls
Same as the bread sticks - they are made with the dough cycle. Super easy and a lot less hassle. This one happens to be a favorite of my son. Let me tell you what, you’ve never had a REAL cinnamon roll until you’ve had one fresh out of the oven. YUM!

4. Pizza Dough
There’s quite a few different recipes for pizza dough lurking around the internet, and all of them work quite nicely with the bread machine. Takes all the hassle out of really good homemade dough and you don’t even have to use the powdered packets. Good stuff.

5. Jelly & Jam
I’ve become quite fond of homemade jams, and it is SO EASY with the bread machine. There is no watching and stirring for an hour or more - just dump the ingredients in and walk away. Put it on homemade bread and it doesn’t get any better than that.

6. Buns/Rolls
Ever since we latched on to the awesome roll recipe, its been used just about every time we have sandwiches or a family gathering. Since this one recipe makes 6 huge buns, we’ve been making two meals out of them. One night is usually tenderloins and the next is hot sausage sandwiches. And these rolls/buns are REALLY good with each.

So there you go - six different types of foods, one machine. Pretty handy, eh? As I type this, I’m snacking on a really good French Bread I made in the bread machine. It will go good with tonight’s dinner too. ;-)

If you don’t have one, I highly recommend the Sunbeam Bread Machine. It’s the brand I’ve been using for several years, so I wouldn’t trust anything else at this point. You will be amazed with how much you use this and how little it actually costs!

If you need some recipes, here’s a whole bunch of bread recipes at RecipeForMom.com.

Have fun!

Mar 26

Looking for new recipes? Then drop by our sister site, RecipesForMom.com!

A few months ago we started redesigning the site and adding new recipes, and we’re still going strong! Currently you’ll find over 800 recipes available on the site, organized by both type of meal and main ingredient. So no matter what you are in the mood for, you’ll be sure to find a recipe that suits you and your family.


Mar 16

While I don’t use my crockpot that often, I’ve found it works well for nights when I’m short on time and also for chicken breasts in general. This isn’t the first time we’ve blogged about a crockpot chicken meal, but I’ve yet to make the same dish twice. (See the other two recipes here and here).

I’m officially calling this the “whatever I’ve got on hand chicken and noodles” recipe, because obviously I use whatever I’ve got. This time we used chicken breasts, garlic flakes, garlic salt, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup (a family size can), and cream of mushroom soup. No veggies this time, although I probably should have.

I started the chicken around noon, dumping in all the ingredients plus a can of water, setting it on high. I stirred here and there, but for the most part left it alone for 4 hours.

After the chicken was pretty much cooked around 4pm (and just before I had to leave for conferences),  the egg noodles were dumped in and I turned it down to low. Those noodles WILL soak up a lot of that water, so don’t worry if it looks a little watery. After an hour or two, everything should be well cooked and ready to dish up.

I love this recipe because it doesn’t matter what you add, plus it’s perfect for when you are gone just before supper needs to be made and throws off any normal schedule you might have.


Mar 12

Last week I decided to make hot wings as a main dish, and thought onion bread in the bread machine would have made a nice side for it. Unfortunately, as par for the course around here, I was missing just ONE ingredient from every onion bread recipe I could find. Out of three or four, I was either missing onion soup mix, sour cream, or cottage cheese. So when I went to the store you better believe I bought all three!

The recipe I ended up using was the one which used the onion soup mix, because it sounded the easiest and probably was going to be the best. Sure enough it was good, and everyone really enjoyed it. We even had some left overs for the kids to take to school the next day for lunch, and a few bites for me to munch on during the day as well.

This onion bread recipe was a little strange to me, since there was an option of using dry milk. I’ve heard of options in breads before, but not something that would seem like a vital ingredient. I didn’t use it though, because I used milk instead of water. I would think if you are going to use water, then the dry milk would probably be a good thing to add (and actually I used milk MADE from dry milk because I don’t keep milk on hand anymore…I just make what I need on the spot so we aren’t dumping out milk every week or two).

Either way it was a nice “sponge-like” bread that went well with our meal and for snacking. It didn’t have an over powering onion flavor either, so the kids loved it.

Still don’t have a bread machine? *GASP!* You need one. Really. I can’t even begin to tell you how often we use ours. Why, just in the last week or two I’ve made buns for two meals, three loafs of bread, and cinnamon rolls. A few weeks ago I even made jam. So YES they are a WONDERFUL tool to have in the kitchen. I highly recommend the Sunbeam Bread Machine from Amazon. It’s the same one I have just bigger, and the price is awesome. Get it now!

Happy baking!

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