6.30.2012

Chicken & Biscuit Casserole


I love this recipe. So I'm sharing it with you. I found this recipe on the back of a Bisquick box once, and I tweaked it (shocking, right?) to my family's liking. The best part about this dish is that it's extremely versatile. You can substitute any meat that you'd like, keep it vegetarian, and change up the types of veggies you add. I keep my creamed soups, canned veggies and Bisquick on hand all the time so it's a wonderful go-to meal when I'm in a bind. It's a great stick-to-your-ribs family meal, and it has a way of magically disappearing in our house. I've taken some pictures of the different steps so you can get a clear picture of how to build this baby...or maybe I just like taking pictures...or maybe you just like you :) Either way, I hope you enjoy this casserole.






Season your chicken with a little bit of  pepper, and toss it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil (or cooking spray) that's been heated over medium-high heat. Get it nice and golden brown so it's a little crispy on the outside and still nice and juicy on the inside. 









Here comes the tough part. Dump in all of your canned goods - Cream of Chicken Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup, drained Veg-all and drained Carrots. Fold it all in together until it looks like this:






Now pepper it all up nice and good so it has lots of flavor. I don't use salt in this recipe because you get plenty of that from your creamed soups. Now comes the step where I got distracted from all the excitement of cooking this wonderful meal and forgot to take a picture. Oops. Anyway, whisk up your Bisquick and milk. It should drop easily from the whisk but shouldn't be runny. Does that make sense? Good. If your mixture is too thick, add a little more milk. A little too thin? Add a little more Bisquick. No big deal.



Ok, once you've done that, pour your sauce mixture into your baking dish that's been greased with cooking spray. Spread it all out nice and even, then dump the Bisquick mixture right in on top of it. 




Spread that out evenly, too. It doesn't have to be perfect, see?




The biscuit layer may be thin, but it will thicken up dramatically while it cooks. Now pop that baby in the oven and cook it for about 25-30 minutes or until your biscuits are golden brown. Insert a toothpick in the center to be sure they're cooked through if you're like me and don't want to chance doughy biscuits. Now dish it up and dive in, it won't last long.






Hearty Chicken & Biscuit Casserole


What you'll need:
Sauce:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed in 1/2-1" pieces
1 (10.75 oz.) can Cream of Chicken Soup, undiluted
1 (10.75 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted
1 (14.5 oz.) can sliced carrots, drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can Veg-all veggies, drained
Pepper to taste


Biscuit Topping:
2 cups Bisquick
3/4-1 cup milk


Preparation:
Pre-heat oven to 350°. Season chicken with pepper to taste. In a skillet that's been heated over medium-high heat, brown chicken with a bit of olive oil or cooking spray. Cook through until golden brown. Lower heat to medium-low and add Cream of Chicken Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup, sliced carrots and Veg-all. Fold mixture until combined into a sauce. 


In a medium mixing bowl, mix Bisquick and milk with a wire whisk until combined. Mixture should easily fall from whisk without being runny (similar to a drop biscuit). If biscuit mixture is too thick, add more milk, if too thin, add more Bisquick.


Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour chicken & veggie sauce mixture into baking dish and spread evenly along the bottom. Drop globs of biscuit topping over chicken & sauce, spread evenly with spatula. Biscuit topping will form a thin layer, but will rise while cooking. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or biscuit topping is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of biscuit topping comes out clean. 






This recipe has been linked up at French Country Cottage.

Starbucks Gift Card WINNER announced!





The winner of the $5 Starbucks Gift Card has been chosen! Are you excited? 



And the winner is....................





Comment number #5 from awagoner, with her comment, "Pick me for your give away! Happy Birthday Dusty!"

Congratulations, I'll be getting your Starbucks gift card to you lickety split. 

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in my first giveaway! There will be many more to look forward to!

Time's Up!

Well folks, that's it for the giveaway. I'll be randomly selecting one lucky person from the comments to win their free $5 Starbucks gift card, and will announce the winner tomorrow, so be sure to check back! Thanks for participating :)

6.29.2012

WOW.

I logged on this evening to a wonderful surprise - my blog has now received a page view count of over................







That's 5 zeros (and 5 exclamation points). WOW! You guys are amazing! I just want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who's visiting or is a regular. This little 'ol blog that was originally started as a hobby has turned into a real passion of mine, and all of you are the driving force behind that. 
THANK YOU!!!!  

6.27.2012

A Trip to Lazy Five

One of our favorite "day-cation" locations is Lazy Five Ranch, about an hour from our home. Going there brings a real sense of peace with it's exotic animal exhibits, drive-through safaris, wagon ride tours, and exotic birds roaming all around you. It's beautiful! We usually pay a few extra bucks to do the wagon ride. Shy littlePrairie Dogs quickly run from their burrows to grab food, and if you're lucky you might spot one. Brightly colored Parrots sing from high above on their throne of branches and Peacocks wander about the trails you while you walk throughout the ranch.






















































Lemurs frolic in their naturally enclosed play area as kids surround their domain to sing, "I like to move it, move it!" at the top of their lungs. 



















Cows slowly saunter over for a handful of food, and are eager to have a sweet caress or pat on top of their head.









































Llamas look right into your eyes as though they're speaking to you right from their soul saying, "I'll be your friend, you can tell me anything". These two had a very sweet disposition.



























Water Buffalo lug their large, sluggish bodies over to the wagon for a bite to eat, so patiently waiting for you to drop the food in their mouths, while their friends cool themselves in a large pond, content with having only their head visible to the crowd. 
















































Deer frolic and play without a care in the world, while the baby deer and piglets stare with an inquisitive interest of all there is to discover in their brand new world. 





















































The Zebras are absolutely exquisite with their intricate stripes. They keep their distance and go about their distance as if they know what a novelty they are.













A lone Rhinoceros relaxes in the shade after cooling off in a mud bath, oblivious the audience surrounding his enclosure.
















Towards the end of the safari you come upon one of the most amazing exhibits of all - the Giraffes. The elegance that exudes their statuesque bodies is absolutely breathtaking. 




























There's something about Lazy Five Ranch that brings a peacefulness to your mind, makes the world seem a little less chaotic, and helps you to really stop and think about all of the little wonders of the world that make up this big, big world. Every visit is a different experience, another chance to make more family memories that will last a lifetime.
































What's been your most cherished family memory so far this year?

6.22.2012

Dusty's Birthday & a Giveaway!

Yesterday was my sweet hubby's birthday. He turned 34. We celebrated with dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, Outback Steakhouse, where he managed to inhale nearly an entire Bloomin' Onion, a 9 oz. sirloin steak and two orders of french fries in 2 minutes flat. What can I say, you can get away with that kinda stuff on your birthday! Then we dragged our overstuffed selves home so we could stuff our overstuffed selves some more with some of my homemade yellow butter cake with chocolate almond buttercream, ice cream and his favorite part - presents! There's something about birthdays and holidays that really brings the kid out in my husband. He waits with (impatient) anticipation for the moment when he can rip open that first present. And the hardest part? He's a peeker! I've had to resort to hiding them all over the house and even camouflaged them with blankets in the back of my car. I was especially looking forward to watching him receive one of this year's presents. Dusty's been begging me to let him get a 4-wheeler for years. As much as I've wanted him to have one, it just hasn't been a feasible financial possibility - until now. You'll see his priceless reaction to his gift in the pictures below. :)


 I've always loved celebrating BIG, be it a birthday or holiday. His birthday means so much more to me than just any other day - it's the day the love of my life, an amazing Daddy to our girl, a patient man when it's tough for me to do the same, and the rock of our entire family came into this world -  and making him feel special, appreciated and loved is a high priority every day, but especially his birthday. Kenzie worked hard to make him the world's largest card out of a piece of scrap cardboard complete with her very own rendition of "The Happy Birthday Song", we laughed hysterically at his Larry the Cable Guy and Johnny Cash cards, overindulged on cake and ice cream and really just enjoyed each other's company. Now that's what a birthday's all about.
































































































The End. :)




Oh, wait, I promised you a giveaway, didn't I? There's a couple of different ways you can win:
1.)  Follow my blog. Just scroll down the page and on the right side you can subscribe, follow by e-mail or become a member with Google Friend Connect. This counts as 1 entry.
2.) Share this post to Facebook, Twitter, or  +1 this post to let your friends know about the giveaway, too!  Just scroll to the bottom of the post and click the logo that coincides with how you'd like to share this post. This counts as 1 entry.
3.) Leave a comment telling me your favorite birthday memory, (or just any 'ol comment will do...as long as you're nice to me, heh heh heh). This counts as 1 entry
4.) Be sure to let me know in your comment which steps you've done so I'll know how many entries you have!
4.) Check back over the next week to see if you've won! 


This means that each one of these steps counts as 1 entry - so if you do all three, (and be sure to let me know in a comment), you will have THREE chances to win! One person will be randomly selected from the comments on this post to receive a Cup 'o Joe on me! Or a cup of tea....or a glass of  lemonade....or one of those fabulous, chilled Frappuccino's with tons of whipped cream... That's right, a $5 Starbucks gift card all to yourself. Exciting, huh? The giveaway will end at midnight on 6/30/12, so be sure to check back in on Saturday to see if you've won! Happy weekend!

6.18.2012

Creamy Beef Stroganoff

This recipe originates from my great aunt, Maxine, and is still a family favorite around our house. Aunt Maxine referred to it as "Poor Man's Stroganoff", since it uses ground beef in place of thin-sliced sirloin or tenderloin. I love it because it has simple ingredients that I almost always have on hand and is a great throw together meal on nights that I just want something quick, easy and delicious. 






What you'll need:
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 97% lean)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup milk
A few good shakes of Worchestershire sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 (8 oz.) bag egg noodles, cooked and drained


Preparation:
Brown the ground beef with salt and pepper; add onion and saute until tender. Stir in cream cheese until well blended. Add the soup and milk; stir until well mixed. Add salt, pepper, and Worchestershire sauce to taste. Spoon sauce over egg noodles and serve, OR put the noodles in a 9x13 pan and pour sauce over the noodles, then bake at 350° for 35 minutes

6.16.2012

Banana Nut Bread



This recipe is one that was passed on to me from my mom. She would make this recipe for me (and with me) all the time growing up, and it has always been one of my favorites. Now I'm carrying on that same tradition with my daughter, and hope that someday she will pass it on to her children as well. Whether you slather it in butter while it's still warm or enjoy it cold with your coffee in the morning, I hope you'll find this recipe becomes a tradition in your home just as it has in mine. 






What You'll Need:
3/4 cup sugar
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup butter flavored Crisco, melted 
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 


Preparation:
Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan with cooking spray. Melt the butter flavor Crisco in a large bowl in the microwave. To the melted Crisco add sugar, bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of loaf from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing - if you can wait that long!



6.15.2012

Homemade Febreze


When it comes to making your house smell good, there's nothing like some Febreze to do the job for you. It makes my stinky old couch that traps every odor imaginable smell like a spring meadow. I go through about a bottle a month, sometimes more if I'm being honest (What can I say, the couch really does stink). But at over $5.59 per bottle, my pocketbook isn't as fond of it as I am. Until now. So when a friend of mine stumbled upon a recipe for homemade Febreze awhile back, I was over the moon when she shared it with me. In fact, there's a little story that goes along with my first attempt at homemade Febreze. Would you like to hear it? You would? Great! *ahem*

Once upon time, I was all proud of myself for making my first batch of homemade Febreze. I was so excited to try it out that I was acting silly and skipping across the living room towards the couch. I get halfway across the room when the nozzle of my spray bottle separates from the bottom, flies across the living room with my homemade creation glugging out all over my clean floors. I run over to the bottle to scoop it up as quickly as I can, slip on the Febreze concoction and go into a full split eventually landing flat on my hiney. Then I got up (slowly, I was a little...er, sore) and made another batch. Because it doesn't cost $5.59 a bottle for me anymore. Instead it costs $0.15 cents. Yep, you read it right. $0.15 cents! If that isn't worth a slide across the floor and a sore hiney I don't know what is! 






What you'll need:
1/8 Cup of fabric softener (I used Downy April Fresh)
2 tablespoons Baking Soda
Hot tap water
Spray bottle (I used my empty 27 oz. Febreze bottle)

Preparation:
Using a funnel, pour fabric softener and baking soda into your spray bottle. Fill spray bottle with hot tap water and shake well. Don't forget to twist the nozzle over to the LOCK position if you're using a Febreze bottle, or you might fall on your hiney. Now go spray every fabric surface in your house and take a nap on your very comfortable and now un-stinky couch. :)

Store-bought Febreze: $5.59
Homemade Febreze: $0.15
Total Savings: $5.44 OR  97.3%!


Edit: I love and appreciate having my blog shared with anyone and everyone, I only ask that you credit the source of what you post back to my blog if you decide to share. Thanks! 

Original recipe from http://fakeitfrugal.blogspot.com/2011/07/fake-febreeze.html

6.14.2012

Grocery List - Week of 6/17/12



DAIRY
1 DOZEN EGGS
½ GAL. MILK
2 8 OZ.  BLOCKS REDUCED FAT CREAM CHEESE
1 8 OZ. PKG. KRAFT  ITALIAN BLEND CHEESE
1 CONTAINER GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE*
1 8 OZ. PKG. REDUCED FAT CHEDDAR CHEESE
1  8 OZ. PKG. PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE*
1 CAN CINNAMON ROLLS
1 CAN CRESCENT ROLLS

MEATS
3 LBS. BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS
1 LB. 93% LEAN GROUND BEEF
1 PKG. HORMEL MINI PEPPERONI*

DELI
1 LB. DELI HAM

FRUITS/VEGGIES
1 BAG GRAPES
1 PKG. BLUEBERRIES
2 PKGS. STRAWBERRIES
1 CUCUMBER
1 PKG. FRESH SPINACH*
1 BAG SALAD MIX

CANNED GOODS/CONDIMENTS
1 (14.5 OZ.) CAN VEG-ALL
1 (4 OZ.) CAN SLICED BLACK OLIVES*
1 (4 OZ. CAN) SLICED MUSHROOMS
1 PKG. EGG NOODLES
1 BOTTLE WORCHESTERSHIRE SAUCE*
1 BOTTLE BBQ SAUCE
2 CANS 98% FAT FREE CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP
2 CANS PROGRESSO CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
1 CAN SLICED CARROTS
2 CANS PEACHES IN 100% JUICE
1 LARGE CAN CHICKEN, IN WATER
1 CAN BAKED BEANS

BAKING
1 BOX BISQUICK

SNACKS/COOKIES/CRACKERS
1 BOX  SALTINE CRACKERS*

PASTA/RICE
1 (26 OZ.) JAR SPAGHETTI SAUCE

BREADS
1 LOAF SANDWICH BREAD
1 PKG. HAMBURGER BUNS*
1 PKG. BAGEL THINS*   

FROZEN FOODS
1 PKG.  SUPER SWEET FROZEN CORN
1 PKG. FROZEN BROCCOLI FLORETS
1 (1) LB. PKG. FROZEN CHEESE RAVIOLI (NO SAUCE)
1 LOAF PEPPERIDGE FARM CRUSTY GARLIC BREAD

*ITEMS MARKED WITH AN AN ASTERISK WERE ALREADY ON HAND IN MY PANTRY AND/OR FRIDGE/FREEZER. THEY ARE NOT INCLUDED IN MY $100 BUDGET. PRICES ARE ALSO SUBJECT TO LOCATION & SALES OF THE PRODUCTS.













Menu - Week of 6/17/12



Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Cinnamon Rolls, Strawberries x2
Bagel Thin w/Cream Cheese, Blueberries
Homemade Banana Bread
Oatmeal w/blueberries x2


Lunch
Ham & Cream Cheese Roll-ups, Cucumber Slices w/Ranch Dressing, Grapes
Chicken Salad Sandwiches w/Grapes and Walnuts, String Cheese, Sliced Peaches
Chicken Noodle Soup, Saltine Crackers, Salad
Grilled Ham & Cheese, Tomato Soup, Mandarin Oranges
Leftover Creamy Chicken & Cheese Rollups, Salad, Grapes 
Leftover Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Pringles, Pickle, Strawberries
Leftover Beef Stroganoff, Corn, Applesauce 




Dinner
Crock-Pot Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Maple Baked Beans, Salad, Sliced Peaches
Baked Ravioli Casserole, Salad, Garlic Bread
Chicken & Biscuits, Salad
Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles, Corn
Grilled BBQ Chicken, Salad, Baked Potatoes w/Butter, Cheese, & Sour Cream 
Homemade Pizza, Salad
Creamy Crescent, Chicken, & Cheese Casserole, Sliced Carrots



6.13.2012

Guiltless Chicken Nachos

I've always had a "thing" for Mexican food. If it was humanly possible, I would marry it. Fajitas, tacos, rice and beans, I love it all. One of my all time favorites is nachos. I've spent many years depriving myself of this heavenly dish because lets face it, my taste buds love it, but my thighs? Not so much. Chili's Chicken Nachos pack 1640 calories, 101g of fat(!), 80g of carbs and 3,430mg of sodium - for 12 chips. So when I got an intense craving for them one night, I decided to experiment a little. There had to be a way for me to enjoy my guilty pleasure without all the guilt. What I came up with not only busted my nacho craving, it knocked it out of the park. The portion sizes are huge, the cheese is gooey and melty, and the chicken gives it the perfect kick of spice. Mackenzie told me it was the best thing I'd made in a long time, and she's a tough nut to crack. I could not tell in the slightest that these weren't the guilty pleasure I've come to know and love. I think I've found a new love of my life ;)








What you'll need:
64 Baked Tostitos Scoops (16/person)
1 pound of cooked, shredded chicken (I use boneless, skinless breasts)
2 1/2 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning
2/3 cup of water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (full fat)
1 cup shredded  low-fat Mexican cheese blend
1/2 can black beans, 
1 (2.25) oz can of black olives

Preparation:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat cooked, shredded chicken over medium-high heat until warm throughout. Add water & taco seasoning and stir until combined. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. 


On two 9 x 13 cookie sheets, evenly distribute baked chips, leaving very little space in between. Spoon taco meat into chips, top with black beans and sprinkle with cheese. Add black olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.



Servings: 4
Nutritional Information* (per serving):
Calories: 446  Fat: 19g  Protein: 37g  Carbs: 33.5g  Sugar: 1g  Sodium: 812

*Nutritional information is based on exact measurements above. Results will vary if the recipe is altered.