We love the weekends! We are all busy, busy, busy and it’s so nice to sleep in a couple extra hours on the weekend and start the day a little slower. Breakfast is huge on the weekend in our home. It’s a time for Steve and I to cook together without feeling the pressure to get the dinner quickly on the table. With everyone’s schedule, dinner time sometimes doesn’t happen till 8pm on some days! We have though as a family always valued “table time” whether it is actually at the table or on TV trays in our living room. There’s an old saying, “A family that eats together stays together.”
We believe in that wholeheartedly 🙂
We woke up this past Saturday and realized we didn’t pick up bacon earlier in the week, bummer! We opened the freezer and saw our favorite back-up breakfast meat: Polska Kielbasa. Perfect! We knew then we would have our Cowboy Potatoes and Cheesy Scrambled Eggs for breakfast. Yummy!!!! Steve’s parents, both caterers, has taught us many different tricks and recipes. The Cowboy Potatoes recipe comes from them. It is one of my favorite ways to cook potatoes! So I will break up this post into two recipes sections. I am guessing most folks know how to cook scrambled eggs but our Cheesy Scrambled Eggs recipe may come in handy for someone new to cooking. We all started somewhere, so I will start with our Cheesy Scrambled Eggs.
************************** RECIPE I ****************************
There are some “tricks” to making fluffy pieces of scrambled eggs. First off, thoroughly whisk up your egg mix! Make sure the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined and no longer appear separated. There are some folks who mix their eggs with a mixer or in a blender…not my thing. I want the eggs well-combined but I don’t want it to look or taste like the egg mix in a carton that is served at most fast-food chains. Cook your egg mix, slow and low, meaning at a low temperature (nothing higher than medium heat) and don’t rush the cooking process. Use a wide spatula to gently push your eggs into what will become fluffy pieces. Don’t turn or mix your eggs a bunch of times or you will end up with tiny crumbled hard pieces of rubber eggs. It only take 5 or 6 times turning the eggs to cook them right. You need to also make sure that you add just a little bit of oil or butter (or in our case, our GFS brand of butter-flavored oil) to your pan and if possible, cook the eggs in the same pan you cooked your breakfast meat. A little bit of meat drippings really enhances the flavor of your eggs. Now if you cooked a pound of bacon, drain off the majority of the bacon grease. You only need just a little bit of the meat drippings, like a teaspoon or two. Lastly, add the cheese at the right time…the cheese doesn’t need to be “cooked” into the eggs! The cheese only needs to melt over your eggs! I’ve seen a lot of folks through the years add the cheese directly to their egg mix or too early into the frying pan. When cheese begins to melt, it does produce small amounts of liquid that almost looks like your egg mix. So folks think their eggs are still “runny” and end up cooking their scrambled eggs “hard” by cooking it longer than they should. So the cheese really should be added after the eggs are cooked. Lastly, you can reheat cooked eggs in the microwave without them turning into rubber. Drench a paper towel and wring it out. Place the damp paper towel over your plate and reheat your eggs in 30 second increments until it is as warm as you like it. The paper towel helps in steam-heating the eggs!
Ok so here goes the rest of the recipe for our Cheesy Scrambled Eggs…
8 eggs (for our family of four, it is two eggs per person)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of butter/margarine/butter-flavored oil
1/2 cup of shredded colby-jack cheese (or more to your taste)
In a medium size bowl, crack your eggs. Watch out for the little pieces of shell! Make sure none of them make it into your bowl. Add the milk, onion powder, salt and pepper. Make your eggs your own. You could certainly add a dash of hot sauce or garlic powder.
With a whisk, thoroughly combine your egg mix. If possible, use the same pan you used to cook your breakfast meat making sure you have 1-2 teaspoons worth of meat drippings in the pan. Since we used the remainder of the Polska Kielbasa link to cut into large chunks, we did have some meat drippings to use. The wonderful thing about using the drippings from the Polska is that the drippings somewhat caramelized when they were pan-fried, extra yummy goodness! Plus, we have a slice of bacon, err, Polska to go with our breakfast meal! Add the butter, margarine or in our case, butter-flavored oil. Heat up the pan. Right before adding the eggs, be sure to whisk the egg mix one more time in case it settled again. Pour egg mix into pan. After a couple of minutes, take your wide spatula and gently scrape the bottom of the pan.
You should see large chunks of semi-cooked eggs appear. Using your spatula, gently turn the large chunks of eggs over. Repeat this process another 4-5 times. After a few minutes (approximately 5-7 minutes) your eggs will be cooked and this is evident when there isn’t any free-standing liquid in the pan.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese over your eggs. Allow the cheese to melt fully (approximately 1-2 minutes).
Turn your eggs with your spatula one last time and use your spatula to gently cut up large but bite-size pieces of eggs. Remove eggs from the pan onto a serving platter. Tadah! Your fluffy, cheesy scrambled eggs are done!
************************** RECIPE II ****************************
Now let’s talk about the Cowboy Potatoes. They are reminiscent of potatoes you would cook over the open flame of a small bonfire, hence the name, Cowboy Potatoes. I unfortunately couldn’t find my potato scrubber Saturday morning, darn teenage son, who after moving into our current home 10 years ago he still doesn’t know where to put the dishes and silverware back to after he washes them! I don’t really complain though because well, he IS washing them, lol. It’s just always a scavenger hunt when you are looking for something in the kitchen, lol. Heck, our dishwasher went out years ago, it was an Amana even…so now our dishwasher is a “Stevie,” lol. Normally, I would scrub the potatoes and leave the skins on but today had to go with peeling them. They still turned out fantastic but I highly recommend leaving the skins on. What potatoes did I use? Good ol’ Idaho potatoes. I will be honest though, this meal is even better when small red potatoes are used but I’m all about using what I have on hand in my pantry at the moment. Fresh onions and green peppers are a must! When we go grocery shopping, I always pick up one large onion and one large green pepper. These are staples in many recipes we use. I take the time to clean and dice the onion and green pepper and then separate them into snack-size Ziploc baggies in the freezer (approximately 1/4 cup in each baggie). I toss the baggies in the freezer and then they are ready to go whenever I need them for our meatloaf, chili or any other recipe that needs a little extra flavor. It’s so nice to have veggies already diced and ready to go at a moment’s notice so it’s well worth the time to dice them up when you first return home from the grocery store. Seriously, one large onion will give you at the very least 4 baggies full when diced. Same with the green peppers! I don’t ever bother to unthaw the onions or green peppers, I just throw them in frozen into our recipes. All you have to do is smack the baggie on the counter and drop in a chunk or two of the diced veggie depending on how much of the veggies you want to add to a recipe. The best part is that they cook up like they were tossed in fresh not frozen! The onions still caramelize and become transparent and the peppers wilt to just the right amount when cooked while still having a little crunch to them. They melt slowly, separate into their little diced pieces and turn out perfect every time!
Our family prefers Polksa Kielbasa. It is a smoother blend of meat that doesn’t have the unsightly and untasty chunks of white mystery pieces in it found in most other sausage links. Plus, you can always find Polska Kielbasa on sale for around $2.50 for a huge link of it!
So here goes the remainder of the Cowboy Potatoes recipe:
1 cup of sliced Polksa Kielbasa
5 medium-sized potatoes (general rule when cooking with fresh potatoes, 1 potato for each person and 1 extra potato for the pot)
2 tablespoons of butter/margarine/butter-flavored oil
1 heaping tablespoon of diced onion
1 heaping tablespoon of diced green peppers
1.5 teaspoons of Lowry’s Seasoned Salt
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of pepper
If you haven’t already, slice the Polska Kielbasa into thin medallions (1 cup worth). For us, we took the remainder of the Polksa Kielbasa link, sliced it in 1/2 length-wise and then cut large chunks up to fry on the side (we used the meat drippings from this to cook our scrambled eggs in).
Set sliced Polksa Kielbasa off to the side. Scrub your potatoes well (if using skins, which again, I strongly recommend) or peel your potatoes. Cut your potatoes into long, bite-size chunks (like a thick, Julienne style). Set potatoes aside. In a large frying pan, add the butter, margarine or butter-flavored oil and heat over medium heat. Once butter, margarine or oil is heated up, add the potatoes, diced onion, diced green peppers and sliced Polksa Kielbasa to the frying pan (see, my onions & green peppers were still frozen).
Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients. Sprinkle the Lowry’s Seasoned salt, garlic powder and pepper over the potato mix. Stir again until well combined. Place a lid over the potatoes; this allows the potato to cook all the way through by means of “steaming”. Continue cooking with the lid on for approximately 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes or so.
Locate a large piece of potato in the pan and give it the “fork-test”. If the fork slides easily into the potato chunk, then the potatoes are cooked through (if not, place lid back on and cook a couple more minutes until fork slides easily into a potato chunk). Remove the lid and pan fry the potatoes to give then a golden brown color and a little crunch. Tadah- your Cowboy Potatoes are done! We baked up some Grands biscuits to make our breakfast complete!
I wonder if I am spelling “tadah” right? Oh well, you know what I mean, lol! If Emeril can use “Bam” as his catch phrase then I most certainly can have one too…
…so TADAH !
I was inspired by the many pins on Pinterest for shrinky dink crafts! I couldn’t believe how cheap and easy it is to immortalize your toddler’s artwork! I knew I wanted to make jewelry out of one of the pieces but I wanted to make it into something more functional that can be used everyday. That’s when I came up with making a key chain! The keys to this craft project (pun intended) is a very thin #6 (polystyrene) piece of plastic and permanent markers. This would be a great project for a Brownie or Girl Scout troop! Teach an older child about recycling and what the numbers mean! You can find information on recycling plastics here.
Our youngest, Spencer, hung out with his great-grandma Friday afternoon while I helped serve lunch to the GMHS football team before the team’s big canoe adventure. Our oldest son, Steve, is on the football team. It was lots of fun watching the kids attempt to canoe and it was evident it was the first time for many of them, lol. I felt a little guilty that our oldest was having such a fun Friday that when we returned home, Spencer and I spent the early evening making his DIY Toddler Keepsake Key Chains!
When I was researching this craft project a couple of months ago I found that many websites say you can find #6 plastic from carry-out containers. These recycling numbers are imprinted on the plastic directly; usually on the corner or the bottom. Sometimes they are printed really small but they are on every piece of plastic made. I was super excited when I read that and looked in the fridge hoping to find the plastic. Turns out everything I had was #5 (polypropylene), bummer. It is important that it is #6 because the other plastics will not shrink correctly (per several websites). So I kept my eye out for #6 plastic. The symbol looks like the one below (it usually won’t have “PS” under it though).
One day a couple of weeks ago I was at GFS (Gordon Food Service) strolling down the container aisle looking at the foil pans. Lo and behold, the plastic lids for the foil pans were made of #6 plastic! So I bought a plastic lid for less than $2.00 for this craft project. The more colors you have in permanent markers, the better! I didn’t really have a stash of colorful permanent markers…but ask any teenage girl and I can bet she will have it! So thanks to our nephew’s girlfriend, Hannah, I was able to borrow her stash of colorful permanent markers a few weeks ago as well! I had been saving this special craft project for a rainy day. It didn’t rain Friday but it was still a great day to do crafts with Spencer!
Because they are permanent markers, I removed the caps and handed each color to our 3-year-old one by one, lol. I was trying to avoid a rainbow-colored toddler! He took the marker and doodled away making large loops, scratches and what he claims to be triangles and squares, lol (I put some blank copy paper under the lid so that you could see his amazing artwork in process). It is best to use lighter colored permanent markers for this project because during the baking process, the colors will darken.
Did you notice something? Spencer turns out to be left-handed, so here goes extra $ to buy all left-handed sports equipment in the future, lol! Once your Picasso has finished with his doodling, it’s time to cut the plastic up. First, remove the shaped edges to create one flat piece.
I really had no idea how much it would “shrink” up and cut the flat piece into three strips that were approximately 3 inches wide. In hindsight, I would cut it only in half creating 2 large strips.
Then I cut about 1 1/2 inch pieces out of each of the strips. Again, in hindsight, I would make it at least 2 to maybe 2 1/2 inch pieces. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t cut a straight line if my life depended on it! So my pieces weren’t perfectly rectangular-shaped but who cares? Be sure to round out all corners or points on your plastic pieces or they will be really sharp once they shrink! They thicken up when they shrink and it would be really hard to cut it afterward. Also, just for fun I cut out a funky triangle piece in one of the corners.
Then I took a regular-sized hole puncher and punched one side (for the key ring). I took a black permanent marker and wrote Spencer’s name on each piece along with the year so we will always remember it was Spencer’s work of art when he was 3 years old.
Place all the cut and hole-punched pieces on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 250 degrees (ok, I’ll be honest, I cranked it up to 300 because I was too impatient, imagine that!).
You will see the pieces begin to shrink and curl up. I kept the oven light on so Spencer could see the “magic” taking place!
After they curl, they flatten back out and that’s when you know the plastic is done shrinking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan. The cooling down happens considerably fast, within a minute or two. It is amazing how sturdy and thick the once flimsy pieces of plastic have become! The permanent ink is also baked in place and shouldn’t in any way “wipe” off. Another hindsight finding…when I wrote Spencer’s name on the pieces, I didn’t realize I had them turned over on a few of them. When the plastic shrinks up, the artwork will remain only on the side it was originally drawn on. I found the side with the ink is prettier but like I said, I wrote his name on the wrong side for a few of the pieces. It’s still looked okay but it definitely was prettier on the pieces where I wrote his name on the same side his scribbles were on. I guess I should warn you about the possible harmful smell from heated plastic, blah, blah, blah. I had the range fan on and the window open just in case. But since it was a small amount of plastic and it took literally like 5 minutes to shrink, I wasn’t really concerned. I’m sure we are exposed to much worse on a daily basis. If you are going to do a lot of pieces, it probably would be wise to take an extension cord and use your toaster oven outside.
Let your toddler check out his handy work. Spencer was mighty proud of his! They just turned out so darn cute!
I immediately put the DIY Toddler Keepsake Key Chain on my ring of keys. Like I said, in hindsight, I wish the pieces were cut bigger to make a bigger key chain. I would estimate that your original cut out piece shrinks to approximately 2/3 of its original size. The plus side is that I have a dozen or so key chains to pass out to our family and friends! Now every time I start my car, there is a reminder right there on my key chain of why I need to wear my seatbelt; our little baby boy needs his momma!
Wondering what I am going to do with the funky triangle piece? Well, it is going to be made into a necklace! I will attach an O-ring to the triangle piece and string it onto some cool fabric cord. I loved this craft project and can’t wait to do more shrinky dink work with Spencer! I foresee personalized Christmas tree ornaments for our family to put on their wrapped gifts 🙂
Super bad news! The permanent marker didn’t bake into the plastic as suggested on several websites…it rubbed off in different areas when the hubby had his keys in his pocket at work last night! Super bummed but the hubby said he will help me figure out how to prevent this…possibly acrylic spray paint or Mod Podge over the inked sides? I will let you know when we figure out what works best! This is still one of my favorite craft projects with Spencer so we will figure out a solution! 🙂
Clear, acrylic spray paint worked! Now Spencer’s artwork is protected on our key chains! Spray a light layer and allow to dry completely. We applied a second layer and also allowed that to dry completely before putting his key chains back on our key rings. So get crafting, this shrinky dink project has a happy ending! 🙂
The hubby, Steve, has mastered the East Carolina Barbecue Sauce.
I guarantee it will take your pulled pork sandwich to a whole new level!
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark molasses
- 1 tablespoon ground dry mustard
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 4 teaspoons of cold water
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix apple cider vinegar, molasses, dry mustard, butter, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 4 teaspoons of cold water (cornstarch always blends better with cold liquids) until smooth and no clumps present. Slowly add the cornstarch mix to the saucepan and simmer for 1 minute. The sauce will thicken a little but a true East Carolina Barbecue Sauce is meant to be mostly thin. Pour sauce in a squeezable bottle and drizzle over your pulled pork sandwich (or spoon sauce over your sandwich like we did). Any remainder sauce can be kept in the fridge for a few days but to be honest it never lasts that long for us, lol. I will have to post how we cook our super moist pulled pork in the near future. We hope you enjoy Steve’s East Carolina Barbecue Sauce! After experiencing this flavor explosion, you won’t want to buy another bland bottle of barbecue sauce for your pulled pork ever again!
Adapted from All Recipes.
Looking for a game day treat that is hardy and super delicious? Look no farther, you will be the star of your football party with these
Buffalo Chicken Taquitos!
- 4 cups of chicken, cooked and shredded (we just boiled 3 large chicken breasts in water that were cut into large chunks until cooked through)
- 25 soft taco, flour tortillas (10 inch size)
- 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 8 ounces of cream cheese (optionally, you could use low-fat cream cheese)
- 1/2 cup of hot sauce (we used Frank’s)
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 2 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash
- 2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 4 tablespoons of butter-flavored oil
- Blue cheese dressing (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small sauce pot over medium low heat, melt butter. Add Mrs. Dash, garlic powder. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add cream cheese and stir until melted and completely combined with butter and spices. Wisk in hot sauce and milk and simmer for 5 – 8 minutes. Add salt to taste. Combine chicken and sauce.
Lay out a tortilla; fill with heaping spoon of chicken mix and a large pinch of mozzarella shredded cheese. Tightly roll up taquito (pressing out the chicken mix to ensure it is close to the edge) and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper; repeat until chicken is gone. It took 2 ½ packages of soft taco flour tortillas to use up all the chicken mix for us. Brush taquitos with butter flavored oil on all sides. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes; rotate them every 5 minutes, until golden brown. We served ours with blue cheese dressing for dipping. Super delicious! These heat up easily in a toaster oven or in a microwave (may loose a little of the crunch in a microwave but not any of the flavor)!
*Adapted from the Real Women of Philadelphia website.
By far one of the best cookies to make! The COCC Cookie (aka: Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie) is super moist and full of flavor!
1 cup butter/margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl with a spoon.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry mix to wet mix and stir with a spoon.
Fold in cooking oats, coconut and chocolate chips.
Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Or use a cookie scoop. Cookies spread out so place cookie dough drops at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookie to completely cool on baking sheet. Once completely cooled, use a thin metal spatula to remove cookies from parchment paper and store in an air tight container. Servings: 3 dozen (dependent on the size of the drops of dough).
These cookies are Spencer approved!
Truth be told, I hate summer. I’m not a huge fan of humidity and sweat. When you have pulmonary hypertension, it really sucks! But I do love the fresh fruit that is in abundance during the summer. My favorite fruits are strawberries, peaches and grapes. Oh, and watermelon and cantaloupe. Can’t forget mangos, bananas and the blackberries. Almost forgot the blueberries, raspberries and kiwi. Ok, I love all fruit! It is the one food group I don’t have problems eating all the correct portions I’m supposed to. Actually, I probably eat too much of it, lol.
We are fortunate here in Ohio that this magic semi truck full of fruit shows up all year round. During the winter months, it brings citrus fruit that is so incredibly juicy and sweet. The H & S Citrus, Inc. gets full credit for freshly picking, packing and sending the fruit to our area. They are the heroes of the winter fruit blahs. They come to our area two or three times a month. They park their semi in a large parking lot and sell the fruit right out of their trucks! In July, they only deliver peaches. The best, juiciest, like it was just picked off a tree peaches. We always buy two huge boxes of just the peaches. How huge? Well, we used 40 peaches for our Freezer Canned Peaches, 20 peaches reserved for peach jam and then we still have another 25-30 that we just eat right out of the box…so when I say huge, I mean HUGE! The cost is reasonable as well. This year it was around $32 for a huge box. If you live in Indiana or Kentucky, you are in luck! H & S delivers to those states also. Check out their website for exact locations, dates and times they deliver their amazing fruits: http://www.hscitrus.com.
So back to our Freezer Canned Peaches…I love to can. I have in the past made strawberry jam, cling peaches and tomato sauce. Although I have all the necessary equipment to “jar” can peaches, I prefer to freezer can them. Once freezer canned, the peaches are good for 12 months (will be more fresh if used within 6-9 months). When we want fresh peaches in the winter, we take out the frozen concoction and put it in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a couple of hours. This freezer canned peaches recipe allows the true flavor of the peaches to shine through because the syrup used is considered “light”. It’s nice to know that when you are eating canned peaches that the ingredients are only the peaches, sugar, water and lemon juice; no weird additives or preservatives! I believe all fruit is best when cold so freezer canned peaches automatically have this fantastic chill. It is super easy to make freezer canned peaches however it is time-consuming and labor intensive. It also is better to do it with a buddy. Thankfully, my best-friend was ready and willing to assist 🙂 He also happens to be the most handsome man in the world and I am blessed upon blessed that he is my husband 🙂 So be prepared ~ freezer canning peaches from start to finish takes a couple of hours to do…but when it is freezing cold outside and you have a hankering for fresh fruit, all you will have to do is open your freezer door to find your perfect peaches!
So get out 2 large stock pots, 2 extra-large bowls, a ladle and a canner funnel if you have one. The canner funnel sure makes it easier to get the delicious, juicy peach slices into the Ziploc bags. Oh yeah, you will need quart size freezer Ziplocs & a permanent marker.
So let’s get to it!
12 cups of water (specifically for the syrup)
4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
more water for washing, blanching and ice bathing the peaches