Monday, March 7, 2016

Cheez-It Chicken Recipe

Everyone loves Cheez-It's! Many people have it on their weekly shopping list, and who can blame them?! But have you ever though about breading some chicken with it? All my years of eating Cheez-It's... and I never even gave it a thought. But then Mr. C had a dream that I made him some chicken breaded in Cheez-It's. And I thought "Holy COW that sounds delicious!!" So, of course, I immediately consult my Pinterest App to look for recipes. (Pinterest is like my Google, I always look there first!)

The first recipe I find is a simple one: dunk chicken in flour, then egg, then crushed Cheez-It's, and bake. Well apparently I didn't crush up the crackers well enough and there were big chunks on the chicken pieces. While it tasted okay, the chicken wasn't fully coated and there were gaps where chicken was really showing through. In my opinion, a good breading needs to cover ALL the chicken, no holes please!

As usual, I decided to try and do my own thing. Let me tell you, Mr. C loved my new Cheez-It Chicken recipe and was SO PUMPED to eat his leftovers the next day for lunch! Instead of just the crackers, I used a mixture of breadcrumbs, Ritz Crackers, and Cheez-It's. And instead of baking it in the oven, I decided it would taste better fried in some vegetable oil..makes it nice and crispy. Plus, who doesn't love them some good ole' fried chicken??

So listen, the first time I made this, I used whole chicken breast marinaded in a soy sauce / honey / ginger mixture. It made the chicken a little salty, but gave it an interesting flavor that Mr. C loved. While I won't include this part in the official recipe, it's certainly a way to change up the flavors. So experiment with different marinades and see what you like! Italian dressing, teriyaki sauce, cajun rubs, all of the above!

Without further ado, here is my Cheez-It Chicken recipe.

Serves 5-6
Time: 10-15 prep + 15-20 cook time

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut in half.
1/2 to 3/4 of a sleeve of Ritz Garden Vegetable crackers (or other flavor of your choice)
3/4 cup garlic & herb breadcrumbs
2 cups Four Cheese Cheez-It crackers (or other flavor of your choice)
4 large brown eggs
Vegetable Oil, enough to have 1/2 inch in a large skillet
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper

1. Combine Ritz crackers and Cheez-It crackers in a food processor and blend until fine, no big chunks. Alternatively, seal crackers in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.

2. Combine cracker mix and breadcrumbs in a bowl or pie plate.

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Sprinkle in salt & pepper and mix well.

4. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium to high heat until shimmery, about 5 minutes.

5. Heat oven to WARM, and line a cookie sheet with a few layers of paper towel.

1. Taking your flattened chicken piece, dunk in egg to coat, then in the cracker mixture to coat completely. Place carefully in heated oil.

2. Cook chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side, using tongs to handle.

3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until all chicken is coated and cooked. Discard extra egg and cracker mixture.

4. As your chicken is finished cooking, place on top of paper towel and in the oven to keep warm until ready to eat.

Serve, and enjoy!!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Everybody loves homemade tomato sauce, right? Being an Italian woman of 25, you'd think I would have made a tomato sauce from scratch before. Surprisingly, no.... until today!! I researched recipes in cookbooks and on Pinterest, and pestered my mom and BFF for opinions. I finally decided to take pieces from a few different sources and make my own.

I REALLY liked the simplicity of this recipe from the Wellness Mama Blog. I especially loved that she used carrots!! However, I was looking for a sauce to simmer all day long with LOTS of veggies and hamburg. So I modified it to my liking. Here is my recipe:

5-6 lbs fresh tomatoes, cored and peeled (With a paring knife, slice just through the skin on both sides of the tomato, immerse in boiling water for 30 secs to 1 minute, then immediately put into a bowl of ice water. The skin should separate from the flesh.)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 medium to large leek, trimmed and sliced into circles and then cut in half
5-8 large baby button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 rounded Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 lb hamburg (I used 85% lean organic grass fed)
3/4 to 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, combine everything EXCEPT the hamburg and the cheese. I used a potato masher to smoosh the tomatoes down and get the juices flowing, but it isn't necessary.
2. Simmer covered on low heat for 4 to 5 hours, stirring once or twice an hour.
3. Uncover sauce mixture, and continue simmering on low heat. (At this point, if you don't want a chunky sauce, use an immersion blender or a food processor until smooth.)
4. At the same time, cook your hamburg until browned.
5. Mix cooked hamburg and cheese into the sauce mixture, and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens to your liking, 15-20 minutes.

Makes about 3 quarts, maybe a little more, but definitely under a gallon. Mr. C and I used 1 quart with dinner (Hobo Stew!! YUM!), and I stored the remaining sauce in quart-sized freezer bags for using another time. Lay flat for easy storage!

Not pictured: Celery

Peeled & cored tomatoes

After the juices started can really see all the vegetables in this one!
Taken just after the first hour.

This is after I used the immersion blender, and added the hamburg & cheese.
Still looks really chunky!

Hobo Stew made with homemade tomato sauce

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yarn Explosion and Reorganization

I once thought there was no such thing as "too much yarn." Holy crap, was I wrong!! LOL 
Before Mr. C and I moved into our current apartment, I had a very small area in which to "organize" my yarn collection. And by "organize," I really mean four trash bags stuffed full of mix-matching yarn in no order whatsoever. Yeah, that was fun...

So when we moved into our new place, I told him we needed to get something to make sense of all this yarn. Thank you Wal-Mart for Sterilite drawers! Flash forward 1 month, I had it all organized and things were working out wonderfully.  But then a problem started...and I'm sure any yarn-o-holic can relate. Mr. C and I go to Joann's and Michael's craft stores quite often, and for no apparent reason. "Ooh that yarn would be perfect for [insert project here]!" and " Oh, I LOVE this color!!" Sometimes you buy 1 skein, sometimes you buy more. Those drawers started getting a little cramped. Two sets of drawers (and a couple trash bags still!!) simply wasn't enough. 

So hubby bought me two more sets of drawers, so at this point I have 4. This worked pretty well for a while...but I seriously have a problem with buying yarn, lol. To top that off, I was getting FREE yarn from a family member. Yes, FREE! I was so excited, and therefore took all of it. ALL. OF.  IT. Not the best idea, looking back now...I still haven't used most of it, to be honest. (What the hell do you use velvety yarn for anyway??)

So obviously, there was still a problem. Here is a picture of my situation.

Listen, the yarn on the floor I can explain....It WAS in that black bag. But my cat decided that a big bag of yarn would be a super comfortable lounging spot. So he laid there and sprawled out and messed up the bag. I know, I know... But he was cute! If you look close, you can see two other overflowing bags of yarn in addition to the mess on the some yarn things on top of the drawers. Obviously, it's a hot mess.

Here is the culprit. His name is Oyster (or Monsieur Clam) and we believe he is a Norwegian Forest Cat. They are larger than Maine Coon Cats...this beast weighs about 25-30 pounds.

So this past weekend, I told Mr. C that I needed 2 more sets of drawers, totaling 6!! It's time to take control, my friends. Without further ado, here is the most current collection. They're even labeled!

We have:
2 Blue
2 Green
2 Pink
1 Purple
1 Orange
1 Yellow/Tan
1 Brown
2 Red
2 White
1 White Mixture
1 Black
1 Grey
1 Mixed Colors

So far, its been amazing. But who knows how long I will be able to keep this up, haha.

I know all you crafters out there have a yarn collection, and I want to see them!! Whether its messy or its organized, in bags or in drawers. I would love to see the different ways of organization!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

February Updates

Hey folks!

So I know it's been a while...had a lot going on with Christmas and whatnot. As a side note, I am now a stay at home dog mom, and it's been amazing! This pretty lady has been my sidekick during the day, voicing her opinions on colors and designs. But mostly...she sleeps, ha!

On my Etsy website, I sold over 25 sock snowmen just for the 2015/2016 season! I couldn't believe it!! Then again...who can resist these adorable faces??

My best customer, a nice woman from Maryland, ordered 5 snowmen and said I could do any colors that I wanted. I LOVE when people do that, because it lets me be creative and do my own thing. 

I made a few Christmas presents this year, as well as Yankee Swap gifts. My cousin was SUPER psyched to get the reindeer wine bottle holder. As I recall, she said she saw them posted on my Facebook page and secretly wanted them. When she opened her present, she shrieked....and it was the best reaction yet! This is the reason I do what I do. People's reactions make it worth everything.

 More recently, I made some Valentine's Day Owls for a friend, and an Easter Bunny Toilet Roll Cover. Both custom orders!

Bunny Ears are 100% bendable!

Currently, I am working on a pattern for an Owl Toilet Roll Cover. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a weird obsession for owls. Literally...they're all around my house. My poor husband, LOL! Can I just say how hard it is to write a pattern?! Thank God I have my mom to test them out for me. Here is a peek at one of the owl tp covers, available in my Etsy shop. Pattern will also be available there shortly.

Okay kids, that't it for one day. Tah Tah for now!