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Making a House a Home

Making a House a Home involves all aspects of homemaking- cooking, cleaning, gardening, learning to be a godly wife and mother, and, above all, following the Lord Jesus Christ in all things.

Updated: 2018-01-19T15:13:10.304-05:00


Beefy Enchiladas...


I'm sure I'm not the only one who LOVES Mexican food.  Am I right?  And I am also sure I am not the only one who can't afford to go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant every night, correct?  So why not give Mexican flavors a try at home?  I have two enchilada recipes on my blog (Sour Cream Enchiladas and Chicken Enchiladas in Cream) and both are SO SO SOOOO good!!!  But WHERE'S THE BEEF?  (totally showing my age with that comment!!  Who else knows where that came from??) I've been making this Beefy Enchilada recipe since 2001!!!!  For the life of me, I cannot figure out WHY I haven't shared this before!  It's incredibly easy and, clearly, one we enjoy since I've been making it for so long.  The recipe is from Quick Cooking with Karin Calloway and it looks like that cookbook can only be found used now.  :(  Karin is a chef and did weekly cooking tips and recipes at The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA.  She also had a weekly spot on a local TV station sharing recipes.  Every recipe of hers I have ever tried have been so tasty!!!  Hope y'all enjoy trying these enchiladas!  Beefy Enchiladas1 pound ground beef1 package taco seasoning (or make your own taco seasoning)1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles8 fajita size flour tortillas8 oz cream cheese (I prefer neufchatel- it's just creamier)1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained1 (10 oz) can mild enchilada sauce2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shreddedBrown ground beef and drain well.  Return to pan and add taco seasoning and green chiles and remove from heat.  In the middle of a flour tortilla, spread 1 oz of cream cheese.  Then carefully place 1/4 cup of the beef mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll up. Place in the prepared 9x13 pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour tomatoes and enchilada sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil after 30 minutes and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.Makes 4-6 servings.  [...]

How to Menu Plan...


(image found here)I did not fully appreciate all that my mom taught me while growing up.  Nor did I truly appreciate all the things she did that I simply watched her do and learned by her example.  One such example is menu planning. I remember watching her on Friday nights. She'd get some paper and pen and sit down in her favorite chair, turn on a TV show, and start writing down her grocery list to be shopped for the following day.  My sweet dad always went on Saturdays and got whatever my mom had written on her list for him to buy.  I will admit to truly wishing she'd write down 5 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts or several boxes Lucky Charms cereal, but somehow neither ever appeared on her lists.  :)She started by listing the days of the week like this...... and beside each day she listed a dinner idea.  Now that did NOT mean that we would have what was listed on each day on THAT particular day. It just showed her what was available to cook that week.  For example, the above list shows Ham and Black Bean Soup for Monday.  We had it on Thursday because it ended up being easier on my schedule this particular week.  After making the menu out, my mom would then list all that she needed to prepare each dish.  Then she'd add in stuff needed for breakfasts and lunches, as well.  Here in our home, we eat leftovers or simple sandwiches for lunch. Our breakfasts are eggs or oatmeal of some kind of homemade muffin or pancakes.After the menu is made, she would go to her pantry (well, I think she USUALLY did this... Mom, if you're reading this, please correct me!!!) and if she found she already had an ingredient, she would scratch it off her list.  I do this and it works really well for me because who wants to end up with 8 cans of cream of chicken soup because you forgot to check and see if you already had it on hand?!?! (Yes, totally speaking from experience here!!!)The end result looks something like this photo above.  Nothing fancy.  No beautiful handwriting needed.  Just a list of what is needed to feed your family for the upcoming week.  I personally shop every Saturday. Mr. U usually works on Saturdays, but if he is off on Saturday, I will make sure I get groceries on Friday so that we can have family time together.  :) (By the way, there are plenty of people who shop every two weeks or even once a month!!!)After your list is complete, it's just a matter of heading to the store (or stores) to purchase what's needed.  I always head to Aldi first and then Publix to get whatever Aldi did not have that I needed.   This particular day, I also needed to stop at Sprouts for a few things (their coffee is THE BOMB!!!!!!).  Then I headed home, put away all the groceries, and sat back and relaxed knowing that our food was taken care of for the upcoming week.  THANK YOU, Mom, for teaching me how to menu plan!!  I've met soooo many ladies who have no clue where to start and I am so sooo thankful for your example!!If y'all have any questions, PLEASE feel free to ask!!  And if y'all have any ideas to share that work for you, please share that, too!!  [...]

Merry Christmas!!


Merry Christmas!!! Happy Birthday, Jesus!!!

Mrs. U

Homemade Ornaments- Simple Dried Oranges...


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!!!  How 'bout at your house????We've got the decorations up, the tree was finally purchased (from Home Depot- nope, not a fancy tree farm), cookies are baking, sweet treats are being consumed, lots and lots of trips to stores are happening, and YES lots of orders from Amazon!!  I LOVE ordering from Amazon!!!  Last year, the we strung garlands of popcorn and cranberries for the first time. I LOVE the way that looked- old fashioned and warm and friendly.  This year,  we decided to try our hand at making dried oranges.  Y'all, it was SO easy!!!  Here's what you'll need to do...Simple Dried Oranges- oranges (I used 4 and did not use the ends that were just rinds)- baking sheets- parchment paper or baking mat - twine or some kind of string.Simply start by slicing the oranges about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Then lay them flat on a baking sheet that has been lined with either parchment paper or a baking mat.  The oranges will release some of their juice as they bake and the parchment paper or baking mat makes clean up easier and keeps the orange slices from sticking to the baking sheet.  Place in a 200 degree oven and bake for 4 hours.  Yes it takes a while, BUT if you try to bake them at a higher temperature, you will burn them.  Remember, you are just drying them out so it's a slow process.  Turn each orange slice over every hour to make sure they dry out evenly.  After the four hours, let them cool completely on the baking sheet 4 hours or overnight. This dries them out even more.  Then, using the point of scissors, make a small slit in the dried orange and string with twine. Tie together and hang on your Christmas tree.  This would be super cute tied on top of a present along with fresh rosemary, too!!!So that's it. Simple. Inexpensive.  Homey.  I'm all about making our house a home even at Christmas and this is just one way that you can do that, too.  Merry Christmas!![...]

What's a Bagel Dog???


Some of y'all have got to be sitting there asking, "What in the WORLD is a Bagel Dog?"It's a combination of a hot dog and all the super yummy flavors of an "everything" bagel.  So sooooo good!!!This recipe actually came from a low carb website!! (I adjusted the recipe for my family and this recipe reflects my changes.)  If you've been reading here for any time, you may remember me saying that I have been trying (emphasis on trying!!!) to watch carbs. Kind of hard when I love to bake!!!!!  But my family doesn't really care to limit the dear carbs.  This recipe makes ALL of us happy!!!  My children love hot dogs and this dough wrapped around it is so very tasty (and Mr. U even likes it!!!!). And the "everything" bagel flavoring on top is AWESOME!!! Whether you are low carb or not, this recipe is definitely one worth trying out!!!  "Everything" Bagel Dog8 hot dogs3 cups shredded mozzarella (use the stuff already shredded in the bag)4 T cream cheese1 1/2 cups almond flour2 tsp xanthan gum3 eggs “Everything” Bagel Blend:1 T sesame seeds1 T poppy seeds1/2 T dried minced onion1 tsp dried minced garlic½ tsp pretzel salt or other coarse saltPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place mozzarella & cream cheese in a medium sized microwaveable bowl and microwave for about 1 minute. Stir.  Then microwave another 30 seconds.  Stir.  If it needs another 30 seconds, do so. Stir to combine everything. Make sure all the cheese is melted and the two cheese are mixed together very well.In a separate bowl, add almond flour, 2 eggs and xanthan gum. Mix until combined.  Add the melted cheese mixture to the almond mixture and work them into each other. Using a rubber spatula works well, or wet your hands and knead it in the bowl.  Mix until you it is all well combined and it all looks the same color. Section dough into 8 balls and with wet or oiled hands, gently roll each one out about 10 inches long.  Wrap one piece of dough around each hot dog. (Clearly, looking at my photo, I am not concerned with perfectly wrapped hot dogs). Beat remaining 1 egg in a small bowl to make your egg wash and brush onto each dog.Mix all of the “Everything” Bagel Blend into a bowl and sprinkle the mixture over each rolled up hot dog. Place on lined sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, the dough should be lightly golden.If you don't want to make the dough like this, feel free to use refrigerated biscuit dough!  Just roll the dough into ropes and wrap them around the hot dogs. Then brush with a beaten egg wash and sprinkle the "Everything" Bagel Blend right on top.  Still SUPER delicious!! This recipe is a nice change to regular hot dogs.  Happy Homemaking!!! [...]

Disappearing Chili...


Anyone else a huge fan of Flip or Flop Atlanta???  It's my FAVORITE HGTV show!!  My #2  favorite is HomeTown and my #3 is Fixer Upper.   Flip or Flop Atlanta features the talented couple Ken and Anita Corsini and their company Red Barn Homes.  They just seem so nice and friendly (and they're in Atlanta, too, so SURELY we should all be friends!!!).  So, of course, it's 2017 and YES I follow them on Instagram  and a few weeks ago, Anita shared her recipe for Disappearing Chili.  It looked and sounded so delicious so I knew I'd have to make it!  We had it this week and it's a keeper, folks!!!  Below is the way I made the chili, but this is the link to exactly how Anita makes it.  I just had to use what I had.  I'm not super close to Trader Joe's.Disappearing Chili1 lb ground beef1 can kidney beans, drained1 chopped onion1 Ccn of baked beans undrained 6 cloves garlic, minced2 cans of tomato sauce 3 Tablespoons of chili powder1 teaspoon of paprika1 teaspoon of salt1 Tablespoon of brown sugarPepper to taste½ teaspoon of garlic powder½ teaspoon of onion powder½ teaspoon of cuminBrown the ground beef, season with salt and pepper and drain off the fat. Add onion and garlic and sauté with the beef over medium heat until slightly soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan. After 20 minutes, spoon chili mixture into a prepared 9x13 pan.Now to make this Disappearing Chili - you will need…canned jumbo biscuits1 (8oz) block of cheddar cheese, cut into 16 squaresmelted butterFritos, crushedCut each biscuit in half. Flatten out each biscuit half and place a square of cheddar cheese in the middle of each one.  Carefully wrap and cover each square of cheese with biscuit dough. You will end up with 16 little balls.  Then roll each biscuit ball in the butter and then roll in the crushed up Fritos.  The butter helps the Fritos stick to the biscuit balls.  Then place them on top of your chili in the 9x13.   Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Thank you, Anita, for sharing your yummy recipe!!!![...]

Garlic Parmesan Knots...


Oh y'all!!!!  I have GOT to share with you this quick and VERY easy recipe for Garlic Parmesan Knots!!!   You can easily include your children (yes, even young ones!) in making these.  They are perfect with soups, stews, chilis or even as a side for any casserole or meat dish.  Shoot, have them with quiche or even pizza!!!!!  Or a snack!!!! JUST MAKE THEM!!!!!  These use canned biscuits, canned parmesan, simple plain oil, and probably the dried herbs you already have in your kitchen.  What are we waiting for?  LET'S BAKE!!First, open the can and cut the biscuits in two (I prefer to use Jumbo biscuits for this).  Roll each half into an 8 inch rope.  (This is the part your children will LOVE to help you with!) Tie them into little knots and place them on a baking sheet.  You can spray with nonstick cooking spray, rub with butter, or use parchment paper like I did here.  (NOTE: DO NOT use wax paper!!!!!  NOT the same thing as parchment paper.  It will melt and ruin your food and your pan.)When they come out of the oven, they look like this.  All golden brown.  As SOON as they come out, place them in a bowl filled with your oil/parm/herb mixture and give them a careful but thorough toss.Then EAT!!!!! Garlic Parmesan Knots8 servings1/3 cup extra light olive oil1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used the green can stuff)1 1/2 tsp dried parsley1 1/2 tsp dried oregano1 1/2 tsp garlic powderpinch of salt and pepper1 tube jumbo canned biscuits (8 biscuits in the can)In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients and toss to mix well.Cut each biscuit in half and then roll into an 8 inch rope.  Tie into a knot and placed on prepared baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately place in bowl with herb mixture and toss gently to coat.  See?  SUPER easy and quick!!!!!!  Y'all be sure and let me know if you make these for your family!!Happy Homemaking!!![...]

Chocolate Cake and Thanksgiving Helps...


Happy early Thanksgiving, y'all!!!I know most of us are preparing for a busy week this up ahead with Thanksgiving here in the US.   I recently found a few yummy blogs offering recipe and hospitality ideas!!!!  Miz Helen shares 15 Thanksgiving Sides and Salads.Amanda Frederickson has great recipe ideas.The Kitchn offers recipes and wonderful ideas for whatever kind of Thanksgiving you're hosting- Your First Thanksgiving, Work Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, etc. And dear Aunt Ruthie at Sugar Pie Farmhouse shares 10 Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving.  We've got a busy week this week.  Tonight is Mr. U's company Thanksgiving party (except they call it Friendsgiving).  What are we taking to share?  Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake. Always ALWAYS a hit.  We will meet Mr. U's side of the family Wednesday for a Thanksgiving meal with them and then Thursday we will meet with my side of the family for another Thanksgiving meal.  So a busy and YUMMY week ahead for sure!!!!Enjoy your family and friends this week giving thanks to God for all He has given us. allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320">[...]

Happy Homemaker Monday..... with Snickerdoodle Blondies...


(Happy Homemaking Monday is hosted by  Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom)Breakfast time....what is on the plate this morning::::About 95% of the time I have a Snickers Smoothie for breakfast.  So so good.  Today, it's the same old same old.  Right now I am:::: Getting ready for our school day.  Mondays are my FAVORITE day of the week and the only full day I know we will be at home all day.  LOVE THAT!!!!!The weather outside::::COLD!!!!  At least, it's cold to this southern girl.  The high is supposed to be 66, though, and sunny.  SOOOOOO my  kind of day!!! Looking around the house::::It's early as I type this, so the house is very quiet and still.  I like to get up before my family so I can read my Bible and pray and get ready.  Oh and make sure I have Italian sausage out of the freezer for dinner tonight.  It's going to be Pumpkin Sausage Pasta.  Mmmm.On today's to do list::::Laundry- Mondays and Thursdays are for laundering all clothes.  It goes by so much faster now that my girls are 11 and 7 and are such HUGE helps!!!Cleaning- Bathroom day!!  But, again, since the girls help, it's much easier than it used to be!! I do our master bathroom,  Elizabeth does their bathroom, and Caroline does that half bath.  Of course, I double check both of them and they usually do a really good job!! I'm so proud of how hard they work!!!  We also do quick "swish and swipes" (as FlyLady calls them) on a daily basis.  Homeschooling- We are in the Early Modern period in history and I LOVE IT!!!  We've been reading and talking about the early settlers to America. Such perfect timing as Thanksgiving is next week! :) Currently reading::::For myself, I just started FlyLady's book called Sink Reflections.  So far, it's mostly what I've read on her blog.  But ALWAYS great reminders to keep up the good work of home keeping!!For my girls and homeschooling, our current read aloud is Caddie Woodlawn's Family.  On the TV today::::We may watch an episode of Holiday Baking Championship tonight since it came on last week.  And I do enjoy watching House Hunters International.  OH!! And I REALLY have enjoyed Flip or Flip Atlanta!!!  Probably my favorite HGTV show!!!  Maybe since I'm in Atlanta I'm a little bias but..... :)On the menu this week::::Su- ate at Panera after churchM- Pumpkin Sausage Pasta and saladTu- One Pot Spaghetti, salad, garlic breadW- Taco SaladTh- Garlic Soup and homemade crackersF- Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, coleslaw, potato saladSa- (grocery day) pizza (either frozen from Aldi or Little Caesars), chips or salad, ice creamIf I have a few minutes to myself, I will::::Start thinking of Christmas gifts. I am SUCH a last minute person and I got on my own nerves last year about it!! HA!! I really need to work on getting better at planning Christmas gifts ahead of time.  But THANK GOODNESS for Amazon coming through for me!!New recipe I tried last week::::Oh my stars!!  SNICKERDOODLE BLONDIES!!!!!!Snickerdoodle Blondies(originally from here)2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour2 tsp baking powder1 tsp salt2 cups packed brown sugar1 cup butter, at room temperature2 eggs, at room temperature1 T vanilla2 T white sugar2 tsp ground cinnamonPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until well blended. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. In a small bowl, combine the white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over t[...]

Bacon Swiss Quiche...


I don't know about y'all, but I LOVE a good quiche.  What I don't always love is making a crust for it.  Sure I could buy store bought pre-made crusts, but I have never really liked the flavor.  Homemade is always better. I have another quiche recipe on my blog and it IS very good, but it's slightly different AND has a crust with it.  This recipe is CRUSTLESS!!!!  So when you really want a quiche on your menu, try this one with no crust.  SUPER simple, tasty and versatile!!!  Change the cheese!!  Change the meat!  Even add a handful of sautéed veggies in!!!  Bacon Swiss Quiche1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped6 eggs1 cup heavy cream1/2 teaspoon salt8 ounces Swiss cheese, shreddedCook the bacon until brown and crispy then drain on paper towel. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cream and salt and mix well. Sprinkle the cheese and bacon evenly on the bottom of a prepared 9-10 inch glass pie plate. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese. Bake at 350º, 35-40 minutes.  Check to make sure it is done by inserting a knife in the center of the pie and if it comes out clean it is done. This serves 4 generously.  I serve it with any kind of roasted veggies or a salad.This is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!!! Happy Homemaking!!!I was featured at The Encouraging Hearts and Homes Blog Hop[...]

Chicken Orzo Soup...


  I mentioned last week that I had made a very tasty soup and had used the pre chopped and frozen onions, celery, and carrots in it.  This is that recipe.  So comforting and warm- especially on a cool evening in fall or winter.  This has quickly become a family favorite!!  Hope y'all enjoy it, too!!Oh and this would be excellent with some homemade rolls or crackers!!  Chicken Orzo Soup2 tablespoons butter1 onion, diced2 stalks of celery, diced2 carrots, diced or shredded3 tablespoons butter3 tablespoons flour8 cups chicken stockprecooked and chopped chicken (I used chicken breasts)1 tablespoon dried parsley1 tsp rosemary1 tsp herbs de Provence1 tsp garlic powder1/4 tsp dried thymesalt and pepper to taste2 bay leavespinch of crushed red pepper flakes1 cup (or more if you like) of orzo pastaMelt 2 tablespoons butter in 6 qt stock pan.  Stir in onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook about 10 minutes over medium heat until veggies are soft.  Remove from pot and set aside.In the same pot, stir in 3 tablespoons butter over medium low heat.  Stir in flour and whisk until all flour is mixed in and the color starts to turn light brown.  It starts to smell a smidge nutty at this point.  This is a good thing!!  Slooooowwwwly add chicken stock and whisk as you go.  This will help thicken the soup just a little bit.Once it's all incorporated, return sautéed veggies to pot along with chicken and all the spices (NOT the orzo).  Let it come to a slight boil then reduce to simmer.  THEN add the orzo in and cook about 20 minutes until the orzo is soft and yummy.I hope your family love this as much as mine!Happy Homemaking!!!I was featured at Back to My Southern Roots!!!!![...]

Freezing Chopped Veggies...


This past week I had planned on making two soups that both needed onions, celery, and carrots.  I knew I had purchased celery and carrots the week before, so I did not pick any up at the grocery store on my normal grocery day.  Well, when I got home from the store and was putting all the groceries away, I noticed that the carrots and celery weren't looking so fresh and I knew they'd be ruined by the time I needed them.  I did NOT want to waste them AND I did not want to run out to the grocery store again.  So I decided to go ahead and pre chop the onions, celery, and carrots and put them in freezer bags all labeled with the recipe they were to be used for.  YAY!!  Usually chopping veggies is what takes the longest in any soup recipe (well, other than a long simmering time).  This was such a time saver and came in SUPER handy when the days came for me to make the soups for my family.  Hooray for saving both time AND money by chopping the veggies before they went bad.  I shared before about pre chopping and freezing veggies, but this time I froze them and bagged them according to upcoming recipes instead of just freezing all the carrots together, all the celery together, etc.  Such an easy idea that saved me time the day of cooking.  What soups did we have??? Oh y'all.  DELICIOUS soups!!  First we had Disneyland Loaded Potato Soup recipe that I found here.  YUUUMMMMMM.  Well, except I left out the corn because I don't love corn.  And we also had Chicken Orzo Soup.  Very very tasty!!  This is the second time we've had this.  I think this is going to be one of the family's favorites for a while.  I'll be sure and share that next week!!!  They kindly featured my post here as one of their November STARs. Miz Helen's Country CottageAnd a huge THANK YOU to Miz Helen!!!!![...]

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix...


I LOOOOOOOOVE a steaming mug of hot chocolate.  A big mug with lots of whipped cream or marshmallows.  Then add on a sprinkling of chocolate shavings on top.  OH YES!!!  Nothing says cozy quite as nice as snuggling up with a cup of hot chocolate.  Mmmm..Cool mornings have started here in Georgia.  If weathermen are correct, we should be greeted each morning with temperatures in the 40s.  Great way to start off the morning?  Hot chocolate and buttered toast for breakfast.  This mix is super easy to prepare.  I simply don't like the taste of the store-bought premade packets of hot cocoa mix.  So I just keep all the ingredients I need on hand to make this and mix it all up whenever we run out.  Decidedly simple.  Very tasty.  My girls even say they prefer this version of hot chocolate over any they've had from a restaurant.  WOW!!Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix2 cups powdered milk1 cup sugar1/2 cup powdered coffee creamer1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)Mix all ingredients together and store in a quart size mason jar.  To make a cup of hot chocolate, pour hot water in a mug and THEN pour in the hot chocolate mix (1/3 to 1/2 half cup, based on how sweet and chocolatey you like your cocoa).  Let it start to dissolve on it's own and then gently stir it all together.  Great as is OR add lots of marshmallows or whipped cream.  Great, also, using a peppermint stick as a stirrer!!!  Enjoy!!! [...]

Update... Homemade Chicken Stock...


Waaaaay back in July of 2009, I shared about how I make chicken stock.  I am very well aware of the fact that you can buy this at the store in cans or boxes.   I have definitely used the store bought stuff before.  Not bad, but nothing you'd "Mmmmmmm" over.  Know what I mean?  I also know there is such a thing as bouillon cubes that come wrapped up in cute little tiny squares.  I always have those on hand.  You never know when you are suddenly out of chicken stock. Boy, those little squares have certainly come in handy over the years!!!However, by far, the BEST tasting thing to use when it comes to chicken stock is.... drumroll.... HOMEMADE!!!!  You knew I'd say that didn't you?  Not only is it BY FAR the tastiest, it is CHEAP, too!!!!  I've even made this in my crock pot before, too!!!  Just put all the ingredients in the crock pot, turn it on low, and walk away for about 8-12 hours. SUPER SIMPLE!!!!  I do prefer, though, to simmer it on the stove all day long.  I do it on a day when I know I don't have to go anywhere.  The smell in the whole house that day is just sooo yummy. Last week when I made our latest batch, the exterminator was here (LOOOOOVE THE BUG MAN COMING every 3 months!!! I DO NOT like bugs!!!  But that blog post can wait for another day...) even HE said, "Boy that sure smells good."  Thank you, Bug Man.  I digress...Here's how I roast the chicken...Use bone IN and skin ON chicken breasts.  You can use any part of the chicken you like- just make sure you have the bones.  Some people will even buy "scratchers" (chicken feet) from the grocery store to add to their stock.  (Yes, I am serious.  Go ask your butcher where they are! Or my dad.  He knows them very well.  Pretty sure he'll read this post!!)  They contain a lot of super good for you stuff in the bones.  So I roast my chicken breasts in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  I rubbed olive oil on top and sprinkled with salt and tons of fresh black pepper first.  After I removed it from the oven, I let it cool.  When I could touch it, I removed the meat from the bones and chopped the meat up.  I usually freeze it and save for casseroles or soups or enchiladas or chicken salad.... well, you get the idea.   The bones and skin (and "scratchers" if you're using them) now go into a big stock pot.  I use my 9 quart pot.  Roughly chop 2 onions, 4 ribs celery and 3 carrots and place in stock pot along with 2 bulbs of garlic (cut in half) and 2-4 bay leaves, 2 tsp dried thyme,  a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and a big handful of peppercorns (yes, put them in whole). And, this may sound like a strange ingredient, but also add 2-3 T of apple cider vinegar. Cover everything with water to the very rim of the pot. Cover with lid. I prefer to do this the night before.  The apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the gelatin from the bones (super good stuff for you!!!).Doesn't it look so pretty in the pot???Don't skip these details about making chicken stock...When you're all done you can either use it right away or store it in the refrigerator 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.  I have used mason jars to freeze the stock in as well as plastic quart size freezer bags. (our chicken stock in freezer bags)So who else makes their own stock?  If you do, please share anything you do differently.  I LOVE learning better ways.  Happy Homemaking!!![...]

Dish drainers- do you or do you not?


In March of 2012, I asked if any of y'all used a dish drainer.  To be very honest, I was shocked that most of you did not use one!  I thought EVERYONE used one!!  Since that day, I've been thinking about NOT having one.  Yes, I realize that was FIVE years ago, but still, the idea has been in the back of my mind this whole time.  I'm just sooooo over how much counter space the dish drainer takes up. I challenged myself to go the whole month of June of this year without using the dish drainer.  I did it and LOVED it!!  I finally threw the dish drainer away two weeks ago (yes, in September!!!). HAHA!  I guess I was scared I'd suddenly "need" it again???  Here's how it looked with the dish drainer on the counter top...Here's what I've been doing- washing dishes then laying them on top of a dish towel.  I do put almost everything in the dishwasher, but for the things that I hand wash, I've been washing them and laying them on the towel.  Great thing about this is that I DO NOT like the dishes laying on the counter so I am forced (by myself.. no one MAKES me do this) to immediately deal with the dishes. I dry them off and put them up right away.  Then I'll just hang the towel to dry.  Aaaaahhhhh the counter looks SO much less cluttered without the dish drainer.  YAY!!!!  Y'all please share links to your blogs if you've shared about your dish drainer or lack of a dish drainer before.  Happy home keeping!!![...]

Easy Breakfast- Puff Pancakes...


Puff Pancakes are definitely one of our easiest and tastiest breakfasts.  You simply mix up all the ingredients and wait for the oven to heat up.  As the oven is heating, I put the pan in the oven with the butter in it.  The butter melts as the oven heats and, usually, by the time the oven is to the correct temperature, the butter is all melted and ready for the batter to be poured in.  Super simple. Puff Pancakes 6 eggs1 cup flour1 cup milk1/4 tsp salt1/2 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp vanilla 2 T butter (salted)Turn oven on to 375°.  Place the butter in a 9x13 pan and put in oven.  As the oven heats, it will melt the butter.  Remove pan from oven as soon as the butter is completely melted.  But, as you wait for that, go ahead and mix the remaining batter ingredients together. When the butter is melted, pour the batter into the hot 9x13.  Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are browned and it's all puffed up.  Remove from oven, cut into serving sizes, drizzle with your favorite toppings.  We prefer maple syrup, but fresh berries and powdered sugar would be awesome, too!!Here's what it looks like as soon as the timer goes off, ready to be pulled out of the oven.  And here's what it looks like after just a few minutes!!  The pretty puff is gone (so don't wonder "what did I do wrong??" when yours does this!!!), but the yumminess is left behind.  And here it is all served up and ready to be devoured.  So tasty.  We've been making this for at least 10 years.  Hope y'all love it as much as we do!![...]

Gross But Necessary....Why You Should Clean Your Vacuum Cleaner's Beater Bar.....


Sorry for the super nasty photos that follow.  There are just some things us homemakers MUST talk about....So, yes, I knew this.  I KNOW we are supposed to clean the hair off of our vacuum cleaner's beater bar on a regular basis.  But.... well, I got lazy and HELLO THIS IS GROSS!!!!According to this website, this is WHY we should make sure we clean the hair off on a regular basis.Vacuums are the cleaning workhorse of our carpeted rooms, but every once in a while they need a little cleaning themselves so that they can keep operating properly. Most are already familiar with cleaning or replacing the vacuum bag since that happens on a more regular basis but it is not as common to remove the roller brush and clean it as well. If you live in a household with long haired people or animals you may know this problem all too well. As the vacuum runs along the carpet it picks up hair that wraps around (and almost dreads) your roller brush. When enough hair builds up, the roller brush is no longer able to rotate and stops picking up hair and debris on your floor. Luckily it's an easy and quick fix.I finally cleaned mine last week.  Yep, disgusting.  All three of us girls in this home have long hair, so you better believe there was a TON of hair to remove.  So now?  Our vacuum cleaner is running MUCH better than it was!!  We only purchased this vacuum 6 months ago and already we had this much hair.  YIKES!!  Lesson learned- I will clean it off WAY more often than every 6 months!!!!How often do YOU clean the hair off the beater bar?  If you have pets, definitely be sure and look to see if it needs cleaning!!  And if you cannot figure out how to remove the beater bar, youtube is your best friend. Type in the brand of your vacuum and some nice person has surely uploaded a video of how to do it on your exact machine.  YAY for technology!!![...]

Super Simple Peach Cobbler...


This recipe is one my mother has always made.  If you ask her, she will say it's not "real" peach cobbler.  She loves the peach cobbler with hand rolled, homemade crust on top and fresh peaches on the inside.  Yes, it's tasty. But for me??? Oh I LOVE my mother's super simple version.  Quick. Tasty.  Can't beat that combination!!!Recently, Caroline (7) has decided this is HER dessert to make for the family.  I put the pan in the oven and take it out, but she does everything else.  And she LOVES that she's making something  yummy for all of us. She made it tonight, as a matter of fact, and declared that next time she makes it she WILL have vanilla ice cream to put on top for everyone.  Sounds PERFECT!!!Super Simple Peach Cobbler1 stick unsalted butter1 cup all purpose, unbleached flour1 cup sugar1/2 tsp salt1 1/2 tsp baking powder1 cup milk2 (15 oz) cans of peachesHeat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 place the stick of butter and put the pan in the oven.  Remove as soon as the butter melts completely (maybe 5 minutes??? WATCH CAREFULLY!!!!).In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and stir to combine.  Mix in milk and stir well.  No lumps are wanted in this.  :)  Set aside.As soon as butter is melted, remove from oven.  Pour the batter into the melted butter in the 9x13.  Then pour the canned peaches (juice and all!!!) on top.  You may want to carefully move a few of the peaches around so that they cover the whole pan evenly.Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Then wait.  This is always the hardest part, by far.  This is such an easy and delicious dessert!!  If you keep canned peaches in your pantry, you're pretty much always ready with a treat for last minute drop in guests!!  [...]

Roasted Sausage and Peppers....


Roasted Sausage and Peppers is one of the easiest recipes I make. This also happens to be one of the favorite dishes of my seven year old.  I'm talking, when she sees me put the smoked sausage in the grocery cart, she starts jumping up and down.  Seriously. (By the way, there ARE other things than just sausage and peppers in the recipe, that's what we have always ended up calling this dish over the years.)The recipe is so so simple. It's just a matter of chopping your veggies and sausages then boom they're roasting away in the oven!!  Gives you plenty of time to wash up any dishes from the day and then maybe relax a few minutes before the oven timer goes off. Roasted  Sausage and Peppers2 smoke sausage links (something like this)1 onion4 bell peppers any color (we used red, yellow, orange, and green here)4 cloves of garlic, minced1 head of broccoli (I use the floret part only)good pinch of kosher salt2 T extra virgin olive oilHeat your oven to 375 degrees.  Chop up the sausage, onion, peppers, garlic, and broccoli.  Place them on a cookie sheet with a rim.  Drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle on salt.  Toss it all together with your hands.  Cook for 20 minutes then remove from oven and toss around.  Place back in oven for another 25 minutes to finish cooking.  Like any recipe, make this like YOUR family likes.  They LOVE onion?  Add more!!  They only like green peppers?  Use just those.  Y'all detest garlic?  Leave it out.  You, fellow homemaker, know best what your family prefers. This can be served over rice or pasta, but we eat it just like this- scoop it up off the cookie sheet and onto our plates and enjoy!! OH! And Caroline (7) says to be sure and tell you that she adds a dash of balsamic vinegar and really REALLY likes it this way.[...]

Scripture Sunday... 5.21.17...


But if any of you N)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;">lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and O)" style="box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;">it will be given to him. 
James 1:5

Friday Favorites.... Olive oil soap...


I've shared before with y'all how I've had weird skin issues.  I'm still not 100% sure if it is caused by fragrances or by whatever is it soaps these days.  Regardless, I've eliminated most non-natural smells from our home (well I do have one favorite perfume I'll share another Friday!!) as well as store bought soaps.  I make my own hand soap, use Ivory Dishwashing liquid (watered down even!), I "wash" my hair with conditioner, and I found the BEST homemade soap that is local to me!!!

Sweet Teas Soaps & Stuff is WONDERFUL!!  I've been buying their soaps for several years now and have had ZERO issues with my skin cracking or getting super duper dry.  YAY!!!  Their bars are HUGE so I always cut them in half before I put them in the shower.  I wipe them on my poofy (what do you call them?) and they suds up nicely!!!

Their website says this about their ingredients...
Our soap is made in small batches from pure Olive Oil, Distilled Water and Sodium Hydroxide – the most basic ingredients – just as our ancestors would have used in the pioneer days. There are many healing benefits to olive oil soap and it cleans and soothes the skin like no other. We have unscented soap as well as many with different Fragrance Oils, Spices and Additives for exfoliation. The fragrances are long lasting and the bars are oversized at 6+ oz and can easily be cut in half so they last even longer.)
So if any of y'all are looking for some quality soap that won't bother your skin, try my FAVORITE- Sweet Teas Soaps!!!!

(I'm not an affiliate for Sweet Teas.  I'm just sharing what works for me and what I LOVE!!!!)

An Old Favorite... Better Homes and Garden Cookbook...


I'm sure I'm not the only one with a love for cookbooks.  I've got a bazillion of them.  I had to give some away a few years ago because I read out of room!!!  Anyone else "been there, done that"? This cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens, is one that will always remain on my shelf.  It's got so many "old faithfuls" that I trust again and again.  Their pancake recipe is WONDERFUL!!!!!  Oh!! And their Chocolate Crinkle cookies are DY-NO-MITE!!!  OH!!! I could go on and on, but I do love this cookbook.I pulled it out yesterday as I needed a basic yellow cake recipe for Caroline's birthday cake.  Very easy and turned out just like a yellow cake should- simple and delicious!! (Well, except Caroline, being her girly girl self, insisted we add sprinkles to the batter!!)I was curious about this cookbook, so I googled the history of it.  I had NO idea it started in 1930!!  No wonder the cover of this one says "New!"  Go to their website post and read all about it!  Here's a sneak peak...Throughout the years, the cookbook adapted to the times while remaining true to its original mission of providing cooks with a trustworthy cooking resource. The formula has worked. The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book -- with its distinctive red-and-white plaid cover -- is one of the world's most recognized books. In 1930, when that full-page ad claimed that there had never before been a cookbook like this one, it might have seemed quite the boast. But 34 million copies later, it's almost an understatement.[...]

Brown Sugar Granola...


I've been making granola for years.  SO easy and tasty and cost effective!!  I mentioned in another post that I've been wanting to find ways to cut back on our weekly grocery bill.  Making our own cereal is definitely one way to do that!! I've been out of the habit for a while, but mmmmmm was my family happy that I started baking up an easy batch of granola again!!!I've been making Peanut Butter Granola for a long while.  Buuuuut my littlest girl doesn't like peanut butter (I KNOW!!! Can you believe it???!!!)  Thankfully I found this yummy recipe on Hillbilly Housewife's site!!  I have made a few changes from the original recipe, so this is how I am making it.  You can read there original here.  (By the way, Hillbilly Housewife has some GREAT recipes!!!) Brown Sugar Granola...1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)1 cup brown sugar1/4 cup water1/4 teaspoon salt4 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats) In a large 4 quart saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar, salt, and water together. Stir it well and let it simmer for a few minutes (2 or 3 minutes should be enough). Remove the pot from the stove and stir up the granola. You want to coat the oats with the brown sugar and butter so keep stirring until everything is moistened. Put the granola onto a cookie sheet, the kind with sides. Bake it at 375° for 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown and doesn’t look “wet” anymore. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the granola to cool right there in the pan. When it is cool, break it up into small pieces and transfer it to a storage container with a lid.  [...]

Scripture Sunday... 4.30.17...


Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:2-4[...]

Easy and delicious homemade bread....


I LOVE cooking.  It's just FUN!!  Kind of like science meets art, dontcha think???  Anyway, of all the time I spend in the kitchen, making bread is by far my favorite thing to do.  Oh yes, I ADORE desserts, but there is something so satisfying about homemade bread.  Maybe it's the flour that covers my apron when I'm finished, or the time I can spend thinking about anything and everything (or nothing at all) in the world while kneading the dough.  It's relaxing and homey and just plain old FUN for me!!!  This is currently (notice, I said "currently") our favorite bread.  However, I have been making this for about 6 years now. It's delicious right out of the oven slathered with butter (we are SO into Kerrygold right now! DELIICIOUS!!!), perfect sliced for sandwiches, GREAT as buttered toast, and, oh yes, most excellent as French toast.Where did I get this bread recipe? Allrecipes!!!! It's my favorite recipe source online.  For this one, I actually stick by the recipe!! SHOCKER!!  I do use extra light olive oil in the bread, however, instead of just vegetable oil.  No big differences, though.  Amish White Bread2 cups warm water 2/3 cup white sugar1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast 1 1/2 teaspoons salt1/4 cup extra light olive oil6 cups bread flourIn a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof (also called blooming) until yeast resembles a creamy foam (about 5 minutes)Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well-oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Y'all please let me know if you make it.  And PLEASE share YOUR favorite bread recipes!!!!!  Happy baking!!![...]