Saturday, June 29, 2013

Awesome Homemade Playdough

We're back! I intended to get one post in before we went out of town last week, but in the chaos of packing and realizing we needed a hotel since the A/C in the house in Orlando is broken, that didn't happen. I apologize! But we had a great week at Disney and the kids and I feel very refreshed and cured of our massive cabin fever that we were suffering from before.

So today is quite a rainy day; hubs is at work and my girls are away on a church youth group beach trip so it's just me and my boys at home. We've already snuggled on the couch in our jammies and watched Dumbo and The Aristocats, and by the time Veggie Tales was loaded, the boys had had enough! They started the routine of tackling, wrestling, tickling, running in circles and yelling and screaming. Our great room consists of our living room, study, kitchen and dining room and all of these are laid out around a central brick fireplace so we have this wonderful circular pattern in our house that kids just LOVE to run laps around like it's the Olympics and a Gold Medal is at stake. I knew that it was time to find a better activity and fast! Yesterday we made Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies (our number one favorite by far!) so I knew this time we needed to make something fun to play with instead of fun to eat. One thing about living in Florida, it rains pretty much every single day during the summer, so I always have quite a list of fun indoor activities to keep the minions busy and their minds active. Today, we decided to whip up a few batches of our favorite homemade playdough. Easy, cheap and it provides hours of fun after it cools. Can't beat it!

In honor of one of our most anticipated sequels of the summer (second only to Despicable Me 2!!), Monsters University, we chose to make blue and green. We made two batches and used berry blue jello and lemon lime jello to make these colors. Each batch makes one big ball--enough to split into halves for my two boys so they each got one of each color. 

Awesome Homemade Playdough

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3oz package of dry jello mix


Gently mix flour, salt, cream of tarter, water and oil in a large nonstick skillet pan with a stiff rubber scraper. Slowly stir in jello mix and stir until smooth. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes, until dough forms and begins to pull away from the sides. Once all the wet spots are gone and a thick dough is formed and can stand in the middle of the pan, tilt out onto a folded piece of wax paper at least two layers thick that has been sprinkled with a half cup of flour. Let dough cool to the touch, at least 10 minutes, then knead all the flour in until well incorporated. If it's still too sticky, you can knead in another half cup of flour. Let cool completely before play. It will further solidify upon standing.

This recipe makes a really fragrant, smooth dough perfect for playing. Since it uses so little salt, it leaves hands nice and smooth instead of crusty and dry. If you've never made playdough before, don't freak out when it starts separating and looking like a giant mess of liquid and sticky lumps. It won't be a FAIL, I promise! Just keep stirring, just keep stirring! Let the tune of our friend Dory keep reminding you to just keep cooking and stirring until it comes together and gets nice and smooth. If it turns out too sticky, cook another few minutes before kneading in the flour. The cook time combined with cooling off helps give it that nice smooth texture we're looking for. 

And as you can see, it was a huge hit in our household today! It saved an otherwise super boring, rainy Saturday. Yay!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Perfect Grilled Chicken Marinade & Macaroni Salad

A few days ago I posted about summertime food and promised to post my favorite recipes for chicken marinade as well as basic macaroni salad. 
My preferred way to prepare the marinated chicken is grilled, but it would also be good pan-seared, blackened or baked. Really, this is such a good, basic marinade that it's delicious with pork chops, steak, just about any kind of meat. Hubs grilled up some chicken on the grill last night that I had marinated all day and then I made macaroni salad and Pioneer Woman's Fresh Corn Casserole to go along with it. That meal fed 8 hungry people and we were all stuffed and still had leftovers too. 
Man, I just love summer food!

My Favorite Chicken Marinade

Marinates 3-4lbs of meat

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons worcestershire
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder


Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Pour over raw chicken in a ziploc bag or container. Seal; shake and toss well and let marinate 4-6 hours, flipping every couple hours to ensure even marinating. 

Basic Macaroni Salad

16oz pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
1/2 medium onion, finely minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt


Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinsed for several minutes with cold water until cooled. Mix with mayo, tomatoes, eggs, onion, salt and pepper. If pasta is too dry, add more mayo 2 tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add more seasonings if needed. Chill until ready to serve.

Two of my favorite things! This basic macaroni salad is so good just as written, but it also makes a great jumping off point to create other variations. I've added chopped green onion, crumbled cooked bacon and cheddar cheese cubes. I've also added diced green pepper, shredded Monterey Jack and a few shakes of cumin. There are so many ways that you can make this and it's really a perfect side dish for summer since it's cold and filling. It goes perfectly with grilled meats, as a side dish for cold cut sandwiches or to bring along for a BBQ.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rewind: Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

     Yesterday being Father's Day as well as a church day for us, I decided to again put my Crockpot Breakfast Casserole in the crockpot Saturday night so that when we all woke up, my hubs would have a yummy, hearty breakfast ready to be served up and eaten right away. (How do you like that dinosaur party plate? My son turned 4 last week and he insisted I use one of his plates for this photo...I couldn't resist that sweet face and how nicely he asked!) I've made it a handful of times since then, but it's been 6 years since my original post, so I thought it was time for a reminder of how awesome this casserole is! My boys like theirs with ketchup; me, I just like it plain as is. I changed a couple minor things, which I'll share with you today, and out of my whole 6 quart crockpot, we've only got maybe a serving left of it. 

Makes 6-8 Servings

1 lb. ground pork sausage, browned
1 20oz. package refrigerated shredded hashbrowns
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 8oz package cream cheese
12 eggs
1 cup half & half (or milk, if you prefer)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard


Place hashbrowns in the bottom of a greased crockpot. Sprinkle sausage evenly over hashbrowns. Slice cream cheese into about 1/4" thin slices and lay evenly on top of sausage layer, covering the layer as well as you can. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheeses over the cream cheese.  Whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper and ground mustard and pour over the cheese. Cover and cook on low 4 to 4 1/2 hours until set. *If your crockpot runs extra hot, like mine does, you can cook this on the "Keep Warm" setting overnight.*

     7 years ago when I first posted this recipe, I had an older crockpot...loved that thing, may she rest in peace...the crock dish broke and I couldn't find a replacement for it, so I bought a new, digital crockpot. I kinda hate it. It cooks SUPER hot, way hotter than my older one, apparently because of new food safety concerns...which I can understand, however, none of us ever got sick on my old one and she got plenty of use, so I'm still bummed about it. So with this one, I have to watch it VERY carefully, and if I think I'm going to be gone all day long and something's in there that doesn't need a long cook time, I'll put it on the keep warm setting, which I'm convinced is the same setting as my old crockpot's low. I'm telling you, this new crockpot will be boiling on low and end up burning the edges. Drives me crazy. This time around I added a layer of cream cheese which got all melty and delicious and warm and really helped keep the casserole from being too dry. Of course, my hubs and boys still doused theirs with ketchup, but what can ya do? I used one bag of refrigerated Simply Potatoes shredded hashbrowns and they were perfect. They are buy one get one free at Publix frequently, so I usually stock up on those for soups, casseroles, breakfast, etc. Such a tasty and versatile product!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Oven-Roasted Lemon Garlic Rosemary Chicken & Crispy Seasoned Red Potatoes

One of my very favorite meals is oven-roasted chicken. I love chicken so much, I could eat it every day and never tire of it.
(Does this look delicious or what? If making a whole chicken like this has you scared, fear no more! This is one of the EASIEST meals to make and you'll earn the awe of your family and friends with its perfection. :))

     Of course I have to mix it up with red meat and pork, mainly for the males in my household, and I enjoy other meats too, but I just love chicken. My husband is flabbergasted when I order oven-roasted chicken at our favorite Steakhouse, but it's so delicious and just as good as homemade, except I don't have to make it myself! Last time we went, I actually gave in and ordered a medium steak and what happened? It came back rare. And I had to send it back and get them to cook it some more. Should've stuck with the chicken! ;) 
     I love a good steak or burger or pork chop just as much as the next meat-eating person, but I have yet to find a burger at a restaurant that is even half as good as my hubs makes them on the grill. I can usually find chicken that satisfies, but maybe I'm just pickier when it comes to other meats and only homemade will do. I don't know. 
     Anyway, last night I made two oven-roasted whole chickens, boiled 20 ears of corn and roasted 2 lbs of seasoned red potatoes in the oven for my hungry family. A family of six can put away some food! Since we remodeled our kitchen a couple months ago, the new double oven made quick and easy work of it. Potatoes in the top oven, chickens in the bottom and corn on the stovetop. It was one of those dinners that people would think took all night but in reality was so easy to make and took hardly any prep time at all.

Oven-Roasted Lemon Garlic Rosemary Chicken

Makes 4 Servings

1 Whole Chicken, giblets removed
1 lemon
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons of dried rosemary
4 tablespoons melted butter
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 425.

Spray roasting pan with cooking spray and place chicken inside, breast side up. Slice lemon and head of garlic in half, no need to peel either. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally inside chicken cavity, then stuff both halves of lemon and garlic inside. Rub melted butter all over the chicken, massaging it in well and making sure to cover all outer surfaces. Sprinkle plenty of salt and pepper all over the chicken, then sprinkle rosemary evenly. Bake in oven for 90 minutes, then remove pan and cover with foil; let sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Crispy Seasoned Red Potatoes

Makes 4 Servings

1 lb red potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder


Preheat oven to 435.

Wash potatoes and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, leaving you with potato quarters cut in wedges. (You can cut each half into three or four wedges if you like smaller wedges, this is what I did last night. If you prefer your wedges to be pretty crispy, you can either pre-boil these potatoes for 5 minutes or microwave them for 2-3 minutes to get them a little softer before baking, which will make for a crispier potato out of the oven.) Place potatoes in a large ziploc bag along with olive oil and shake well. Add seasonings and shake well until evenly coated. Pour onto greased cookie sheet and bake on bottom rack for 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

     Give this meal a try and you'll be so pleased with the results. The butter gives the chicken such amazing flavor and keeps it moist along with getting that nice golden, crispy skin that looks straight out of a cooking magazine. I'm already looking forward to leftovers for lunch today! Yum, yum, yum!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Crockpot Hot Boiled Peanuts

Summertime here in the south means hot boiled peanuts! You can find them at grocery stores, convenience stores, produce stands, festivals and there are even little boiled peanut carts on a lot of street corners downtown in the little towns and big cities alike. My kids know once we start seeing the peanuts on display at our local grocery stores, that means it's time for Mommy to cook up some hot boiled peanuts just for us. 

*Ok, quick side note here: Fellow Mommy bloggers, how do you do it? Have you noticed how completely impossible it is to think and get into a flow when you are surrounded by children and talking and noises and microwave beeps and fights over whose turn it is to be "it" and kids saying they're hungry and asking if they can eat such-and-such, etc...?? I'm about to go insane!! I need an office. Ahem, hubby....?!? lol*

So anyway....Tuesday morning I hauled out the peanuts I had bought--raw, green peanuts--and rinsed and drained them before placing them in my crockpot. I then added enough water to completely cover them and stirred in some salt and seasonings, switched to the high setting and let it go. A few hours into it I added a little more water since the top layer was becoming dry. After about 6 hours, we had delicious hot boiled peanuts that required very little effort but tasted like I'd been hard at work all day. Yay! Happy kids and parents alike. Now here it is Thursday and they're already nearly cleared out which means another trip to the local supermarket or Farmer's Market to pick up some more raw, green peanuts! These are a staple to our summer: we snack on them throughout the day, bring them with us to the pool or beach, bring them to share at parties and BBQs, bring bags of them with us to the fireworks, etc....they're so versatile and keep really well with all the salt in there as a preservative. Enjoy!

Makes 2 Pounds

2 lbs raw green peanuts, found in the produce section of your grocery store
1 - 1 1/2 cups salt
Dash garlic powder
Dash onion powder
Dash cayenne


Rinse and drain the peanuts in a colander, picking out any that are broken or open. Place peanuts in a crockpot and add enough water to completely cover the peanuts. (They will float to the top.) Stir in a cup of salt and a few shakes of each of the seasonings. Cook on high for 6 hours and check for doneness and taste, adding more salt if needed. (If it's too salty, add 3-4 more cups of water and cook for another hour...likewise if they aren't soft enough for your taste, cook longer, checking after every hour until you reach the level of "doneness" that you want.)

This has been one of my favorite snacks since I was little and my mom made hot boiled peanuts for me and my brothers and sisters. I remember my grandparents buying some for me at a produce market on a street corner in Green Cove Springs, FL, where we'd meet up with them so my brother and I could go stay with them at their house at the beach for a week or two over the summers. You can also use packaged raw dried peanuts in the nut and popcorn aisle at your grocery store, but I much prefer the raw green fresh peanuts to those. But if you're having a craving and the raw green ones aren't to be found or aren't in season, by all means, use the dried! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summertime Eats!

I really can not believe it's summertime again already! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE summer. I love having my kiddos home with me and we always make a summer bucket list of things we want to do and try to do a different thing at least 4 out of the 7 days in a week, if not more. We also love taking road trips together. One of my very favorite type of vacation is a road trip. I just love seeing the country; all the different cities and states and scenery and stopping at lots of different restaurants and local eateries, visiting museums and state parks and even playing all the silly car games. I love it all! ABC license plate? You got it! Ahem, back to my point: so summertime gets really hot and humid in my lovely state of Florida. So we try to eat a lot of sandwiches and cold salads and we do a bunch of grilling and eating outside. So we hardly ever eat a big, hot dinner that requires a lot of oven and/or stovetop cooking--it's just too darn hot for that! So I thought I would share some of our favorite Summertime Eats. I'm always on the lookout for new favorites and we like to mix those in to our traditional standards.

Summer Meal #1: Meatball Hoagies with a big garden salad.

This is pretty quick and easy and won't heat up your oven for long--the hoagies only need to bake for 15 minutes or so. I usually make some homemade ranch dressing to go with it--I love Pioneer Woman's version!

Summer Meal #2: Chicken Salad Focaccia Sandwiches with Carrot Sticks, Potato Chips and PW's Ranch Dressing.

Again, the focaccia doesn't take long to bake and you chill the chicken salad, so you've got a nice, cool but filling meal that even the kids love!

Summer Meal #3: Grilled chicken with macaroni salad and corn on the cob. (Recipes Coming Soon!)

I love to make a quick marinade for chicken in the morning, put it and the chicken in a ziploc in the fridge in preparation for the hubs to grill it later that night. My mom's Basic Macaroni Salad is always a popular side dish in the summer and there's just something about pairing it with grilled chicken that brings back all the memories of my childhood during the summer.

We love to wash all our food down with a big glass of ice cold sweet tea or my Homemade Strawberry Lemonade and serve up some delicious Blueberry Cobbler for dessert--made with fresh from the farm blueberries! We go blueberry picking every summer and freeze enough fresh blueberries to last us until the next summer. This delicious bounty leads to muffins, pancakes, cobblers, ice cream...and just blueberries eaten by themselves accompanied by little bluish purple faces and fingers. :)

Here's a recipe that is quick and easy as well as SUPER delicious. I mean, it's got bacon in it, you just can't go wrong. If you love BLTs like I do, you'll go gaga over these roll-ups. They're great to serve for lunch, as a snack, or to bring along with you to those summer BBQs where everyone brings a dish to share:

BLT Roll-Ups

Makes 12-14 Servings

8 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup mayo 
16 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled 
1 cup of chopped, seeded tomatoes 
4  8" flour tortillas
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce 


Mix cream cheese and mayo in a medium bowl. Add bacon and tomatoes and mix well. Spread evenly onto tortillas and top with lettuce. Roll up tightly, place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Take out and cut each wrap into 7 one-inch slices and serve.

Another easy one we love to make for parties:

Ham Roll-Ups

Makes 10-12 Servings

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (2 1/4 oz) can chopped black olives, drained
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
8-10 slices fully cooked deli ham


Beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in olives and onions and mix well. Spread evenly over ham slices and roll up tightly starting with the short side. Chill for at least an hour or overnight. Cut into 1-2" slices and serve.

Well, I hope that gets you started on some yummy summer food. I've already made a few items on this list and have plans to make the rest of the list and then some. I LOVE summer! Happy dance!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Divinity Cookies

Makes 2 Dozen Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat butter and shortening together until combined, then stir in powdered sugar and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Stir in egg white and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Slowly add to creamy mixture, mixing well until soft dough is formed. Stir in nuts. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Dip a the back of a spoon in water and then powdered sugar and flatten dough balls slightly. Bake for 11-13 minutes until slightly browned on the edges. Cool 10 minutes on the pan then move to wire rack to finish cooling. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired.

   When I was a little girl, my mom frequently made shopping trips to Publix supermarket, a store we kids loved because we could get a free cookie (up until age 12). Back in my day, you could pick ANY cookie from the bakery display cabinet. Nowadays, when I'm the one shopping at Publix with my own kiddos, they have a specific small case with cookies available to choose from for free for the kids--usually either a sugar cookie with sprinkles or chocolate chip. Sprinkles are my three year old's first choice, but my six year old and eleven year old go for the chocolate chip every time! 
   But, as I was saying, back in my day (a LONG time ago!) we could choose whatever kind we wanted. I remember my two favorite constant choices were Iced Oatmeal and Divinity. NEITHER of which are available anymore, not even for purchase! Such a shame! Divinity Cookies were these big, thick pillows of buttery, crumbly, nutty goodness. I have never seen them anywhere else, and once Publix stopped offering any choice of cookie for free, the Divinity disappeared along with it and I've never seen them there again and can't seem to locate them anywhere else either. Big sad face! I've done tons of googling, hoping to find a recipe that would suffice, but so far, I haven't had any luck getting an exact replica of my long-lost favorite, Publix divinity cookies.    

   This recipe is the closest that I've come so far. I've made it with just butter, just shortening, almond flavoring, pecans rather than walnuts...and this one is just the closest I think I'm gonna get until someone rescues me! :) I made these tonight and the kids and hubs raved over them and cleared out the first dozen in no time. So, even though I'm still searching for That Perfect Divinity Cookie, at least my family is excited! I must admit, they're pretty yummy and buttery and crumbly...they remind me a lot of Pecan Sandies. 

   Make sure you use walnuts (or whatever nut you go with) that are as fresh as possible--anytime you use a stale nut in baking, it flavors the entire cookie/cake/pie/bread, etc., with "staleness". Just not a happy thing. So always use as fresh as you can! Hope you like these cookies! If you ever come across another recipe for Divinity (not the candy...the cookie!), don't forget about me over here in my kitchen full of sunshine, wishing and hoping for the perfect one to drop in my lap! Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Chip Banana Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

3/4 cup butter, softened (12 tablespoons...1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, overripe and soft
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 cup peanut butter chips


Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar together 2 minutes until pale yellow. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well between; then beat 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in bananas until incorporated well, then peanut butter and vanilla, mixing well until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing only until JUST combined. Gently stir in peanuts and peanut butter chips. Pour into well greased loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes in the center of the oven, on the center rack. *If you bake on the upper or lower racks instead of center, remember to rotate halfway through the bake time or you'll end up with overdone edges and/or bottom* Remove from oven and let cool in pan 10 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges and then tipping on a pan, flipping it over right side up until cooled; can serve warm or cold. 

One of our family's favorite things is a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a tall glass of cold milk. I made some banana bread earlier this week and had a couple bananas left so I decided to  try something new: peanut butter banana bread! And it turned out amazing. This will definitely be a regular in our household from now on! I only had two bananas so I used a teaspoon and a half of banana flavored extract also, but I definitely prefer to use three bananas rather than the extract. I could see this served with some peanut butter spread on top or warm from the oven with a pat of butter on it. Give it a try! It's yumm-o. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crockpot Spinach, Sausage & Sun-dried Tomato Tortellini

Makes 6 Servings

1 large 32 oz bag frozen cheese-filled tortellini
1/2 bag of fresh spinach
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
8 oz cream cheese, cut up and softened
1-2 cups chicken broth
1 lb ground Italian sausage, browned
2 cloves garlic, minced
Italian Seasoning
Grated Parmesan


Brown the sausage with the minced garlic and place in a greased crockpot. Add the cream cheese, chicken broth, tomatoes and seasonings. (I started with a teaspoon of each.) Cook on low for 2 hours. Mix well and add the tortellini and cook for another 1-2 hours, until tortellini is warm. Add fresh spinach and cook for another hour. Test tortellini for doneness. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.

I've made this so many times with different variations and my kids and husband love it. It's super easy--you just have to remember to toss the ingredients in when needed and give it a quick stir--and when it's done you have a healthy, one-dish meal to serve to your family. I've also used lower fat cream cheese and haven't noticed much of a difference. Sometimes in place of the Italian sausage, I'll use grilled chicken strips or cubed, cooked chicken breasts. This is such a versatile recipe that you can really customize to however you like it. You could use Italian style diced tomatoes in place of, or even in addition to, the sun-dried. You could use Rotel tomatoes & chiles and give it a Southwest twist. Toss in some cumin instead of the Italian seasoning, chorizo in place of Italian sausage and sprinkle with some monterey jack cheese you've got a delicious meal ready for scooping up with tortilla chips. I've used both refrigerated and frozen tortellini as well as ravioli. If you use refrigerated, just add that in for the last hour along with the spinach. I love crockpot meals! No rush at dinnertime, yay!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sarah's Chicken Riggies

Between my husband and I, we have family all over. Florida, Tennessee, New York, California, Long Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Canada, Germany, France...too many places to list! My parents grew up in upstate New York and a large portion of my family members still live in that area. One in particular, my cousin Sarah, showed me this recipe last summer when we were visiting. This recipe originates from the Utica, New York area and everyone has their own little tweak or ingredient that they include. This is Sarah's Chicken Riggies....absolutely delicious and very easy to make! It makes a lot and is very filling so be prepared for leftovers!

Makes 6-8 Big Servings

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/8 cup hot or mild banana peppers, cut up
1 small can sliced olives
2 teaspoons salt (I use kosher)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
12 oz heavy whipping cream
12 oz your favorite/homemade spaghetti sauce
1 16oz box rigatoni


Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté chicken, onion and green pepper. Meanwhile, cook rigatoni according to package directions. To the chicken, add roasted red peppers and banana peppers and cook until chicken is lightly browned and no longer pink in the middle. Add olives, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and stir well. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add red sauce and whipping cream and bring to a simmer until thickened. Add rigatoni and toss to coat, tasting and adding more seasoning if necessary. Serve with hot bread for sopping up sauce.

Super delicious meal, very easy and inexpensive. Even my pickiest eaters ate it all without picking anything out. Maybe it's because Sarah introduced them to this dish first, and she's much cooler than Mom is! :) Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Vintage Milk Jar

     One of the most popular recipes in our house is Buffalo Chicken Dip. We buy Rickey's Chicken Wing Sauce from Sam's Club because it is a huge jar for a great price and it tastes great too. The jar it comes in is such a cool shape, I never can bring myself to put it in the recycling bin. Instead, these jars get makeovers and live in our home with us, or get passed on to a friend. I gave my last one ombre teal stripes, so when we finished the latest jar of wing sauce, I found myself pondering a few different ideas and the one I finally chose to go with this time was a vintage milk jar...can you see it!? 

Here is what the jar looks like as soon as we get it home from Sam's:

The one on the right is the one we usually get. That bigger one on the left looks awesome too, I think I'll have to get that sometime just for the jar! So first things first: I cleaned it out with super hot water to dissolve the glue, making it easy to cleanly remove the label. Then I washed it out with warm soapy water, dried it as best I could then let it air dry the rest of the way overnight. 

Now I have this plain glass jar: 

I'm sure you know what's coming next! Yep, spray paint, one of my favorite things! I used Valspar gloss white spray paint this time, but the cheapo stuff from Wally World works just as well. I took it outside, placed it upright on some cardboard and gave it a few light coats of paint, letting it dry about 10-15 minutes between coats. While that was drying, I designed a quick vintage milk label in Photoshop and saved it as a jpg. Then I opened that up in my Silhouette software and cut it out in solid black adhesive-backed vinyl. 

Here's the painted jar and vinyl, all ready to be applied!

I applied the vinyl to the milk jar using transfer paper and rubbed really well to make sure all those tiny letters stayed on the jar before peeling away the transfer paper, leaving me with an adorable DIY "vintage" milk jar. She will be right at home up on the planter's ledge in my kitchen! Technically, she is foodsafe on the inside, but I don't plan to use it that way; I just thought this made such a cute little photo, I had to stage it like that. :) Here she is in all her glory:

Isn't she pretty? She's going to look perfect up above my cabinets on that ledge! I chose "Lester" because that was my Nana and Papa's last name, my mom's maiden name, all my Northern family's last names...just another way to make me think of them every time I look at it. 

And just because I'm really nice, I'm going to share my label with you! :)

Feel free to use it for your own personal milk jar, or how cute would this look on a wooden crate? So many adorable ways to use it! If you want to use it in your Silhouette, just open up the jpg in your software and select the Trace option, adjusting the high and low pass until you get the look you want, then remove the jpg and voila, all ready to cut! You could also easily print this out and mod podge it onto a bottle or crate if you don't have a Silhouette. I may decide to further distress it with some distress ink or a dry brush and brown glaze...but for now she's bright and shiny and ready to go on the shelf.

*If you use my label for a project and/or showcase it on your blog, please give credit to Kitchen Full of Sunshine. Personal use only. Please no redistributing. Thank you!*

Hope you have a great Saturday! It's the weekend! Get to crafting! :)