Friday, August 30, 2013

Chocolate Pretzel Cheesecake Pie

With temps in the upper 90's all week long it was only necessary that we had something cool for dessert last night. Some of the schools in the area have been dismissing early all week, sports activities being cancelled or rescheduled for much later in the evening and the kiddos being cooped up inside for the afternoon. We're ready for mother nature to get her act together around here. Where were these temps during summer break?

I seen someone post a picture of a chocolate pie last week and that's sort of where I got my inspiration for this particular dessert. It's been awhile since I've made anything like this so of course it sounded good. Then my mind wandered to a pretzel crust. Yes, that sweet and salty combination! It's divine.

It's still going to be pretty warm here in the Midwest for Labor Day weekend, definitely consider making this easy pie to take along to your gatherings. It will be much appreciated!

Chocolate Pretzel Cheesecake Pie

1 cup crushed pretzels
3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
3.4 oz box instant chocolate pudding
1-1/4 cups milk
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. container Cool-Whip

In a medium bowl, combine crushed pretzels, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile whisk instant pudding and milk together in a bowl for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. In another bowl, beat cream cheese using an electric mixer until creamy. Add in powdered sugar and whipped cream. Fold in chocolate pudding and mix together well. Spread mixture into cooled pie crust, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Enchilada Sauce for the Freezer

Our menu this week seems to be filled with dishes I haven't made in awhile. The hubby said over a month ago that we haven't had buffalo mac and cheese in a long time. Despite the 96 degree temps I turned on the oven and made that last night. Let me tell you, it was amazing! Totally hit the spot.

Well the girls have been begging me for chicken enchiladas so that's our plan for tomorrow night's meal. I got a head start by prepping the sauce, it will make my evening a little easier and I can get dinner on the table much faster. Plus it gave me the opportunity to use up some of our small tomatoes and jalapenos in the garden.

Let's talk about this sauce for a moment. It's pretty much amazing. My enchiladas are always a favorite in our freezer swap because of this sauce. There's just a little bit of heat from the jalapenos and lots of smoky cumin. I also love the addition of fresh tomatoes. It also comes together very quickly, I might have spent fifteen tops minutes cooking. I did take advantage of my free time and make up a double batch, that way I have enough for at least one more meal. I divided the sauce between freezer bags and then all I have to do is thaw, mix it together with the chicken, cilantro and cheese and stuff into tortilla shells. There will be plenty leftover to smoother on top for baking.

Even if you're not a fan of freezer cooking, making up a batch of sauce such as this one saves you time in the evenings when you'd much rather be spending time with your kids or kicking back with a good book. It's a win-win situation.

Enchilada Sauce

1-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced finely
1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and jalapenos together. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add in garlic and let cook for another minute. Sprinkle in chili powder, cumin and sugar; let cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in water, tomato sauce and chopped tomato. Let simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Let cool completely and then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Label and stick in freezer until ready to use. One batch makes enough for at least 10 enchiladas, one meal with leftovers depending on the size of your family.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cucumber Salsa

Normally at this time of year I would feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in tomatoes. Enjoying lots of BLT's for supper, fresh salsa and freezing at least two batches of my favorite spaghetti sauce. Nope, not this year. I'm not exactly sure what happened but my tomato plants just did not seem to produce very well this year. I'm really quite saddened by this.

Instead I've got lots of cucumbers instead and a few small tomatoes. I might not be able to freeze any sauce for winter but I figured I can still enjoy some homemade salsa.

It sure was a nice compromise too. I loved the addition of cucumber to my ordinary salsa.  I love my salsa chunky but you can dice the veggies even smaller or try to pulse it through a food processor. I just might have to make another batch as I'm sure this won't last long in our house, the girls love chips and salsa for an after school snack!

Cucumber Salsa

1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeno, diced finely
diced onion
grated lime peel
salt, to taste
chili powder, to taste (I also love using Pampered Chef's Chili Lime Rub)

In a small bowl combine all veggies and mix together. I gave you estimates but surely feel free to make adjustments. Add in salt, lime and chili powder, tasting as you go and adjusting if needed. Serve immediately with tortilla chips or store in fridge.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cinnamon Cucumber Bread

I've told you about all of my cucumbers in the fridge lately, right? Between our little garden and the weekly produce box, I feel like I've been eating a cucumber at every single meal. Only one other child likes them besides myself.

I've made pickles, included them on sandwiches and salads but they're still there. So I decided last night, let's make bread. Yes, bread!

Zucchini works wonderfully in bread so why not the same with cucumber? In fact, it really does taste quite like zucchini bread. I had my little helper again last night and we baked four mini loaves, enough to stash a few in the freezer for another day and one for us to try.

Cucumber's have such a high water content that they help keep the bread from going dry. Although I did squeeze a little bit of the water out. Seriously if you have lots of these sitting around your house, you need to make a point to bake a couple loaves.

Cinnamon Cucumber Bread

2 cups grated, seeded and peeled cucumbers
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

In a large bowl, combine grated cucumbers, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Mix well to combine. Gradually add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Pour into four greased mini loaves, bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for at least 15 minutes before removing.

If storing in freezer, let cool completely. Then I usually wrap each loaf in plastic wrap and then foil. Label and place in the freezer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Peach Blueberry Cake

Let me tell you, it's felt like one crazy week. Besides the girls starting school yesterday and everything that went along with that; I've also been busy processing forty pounds of peaches. But that's a post for another day.

So yesterday our oldest two daughters headed back to school, starting 1st and 8th grade. I'm honestly sad to see summer go, I love each and every day with my girls and always feel blessed that I'm able to work from home and be here for them. At the same time, it was a much needed break as well to have the house so quiet yesterday! With only our three year old home, it was peaceful.

She was a big helper in the kitchen, we had fun trying out some new recipes yesterday in attempt to use up the last of our peaches.

I made this on Sunday for dinner with my parents. It's a very unique dessert and everyone loved it. I don't know if cake is the correct term, it's made in a springform pan just as a cheesecake would be. The dough itself was almost like sugar cookie dough, yes I did taste it :)

When baked through the flavor and texture did remind me of pound cake. The middle is filled with lots of fresh blueberries and peaches and we enjoyed our slices with scoops of vanilla ice cream. It really was a perfect dessert for a warm summer day!

I would definitely recommend saving this dessert for an occasion when you can serve it all at once, having no leftovers. It's best enjoyed the day it's made and even while warm. Because there is so much fruit filling, there is some liquid and it just doesn't keep for very long.

Peach Blueberry Cake

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

for the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
6 peaches, pitted and sliced
1-1/2 cups blueberries
Juice from one half of lemon

For the dough, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into food processor. Pulse just to combine. Add in cubed butter and process until mixture is crumbly. Add in eggs and vanilla, process just until dough forms into a ball.

Remove dough and transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, press dough out covering the bottom and evenly up the sides. Place pan in fridge to chill while you make the filling.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour and tapioca. Add in sliced peaches, blueberries and lemon juice. Toss everything together to coat fruit well. Spoon filling into prepared pan. Cover pan with foil, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Filling should be bubbling and crust will be golden brown by this time. Remove from oven to let cool at least 20-25 minutes before removing sides of the pan. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Slightly adapted from: Annie's Eats

Monday, August 19, 2013

Streusel Squash Muffins

I've come to love summer squash but I have to be honest, I've about had enough of it for the summer. We've been receiving at least a few each week in our produce box, we love grilling it and adding it into other dishes but even still this morning I had four in my fridge. And that's not even counting the zucchini- that's a whole different story.

So when Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love posted about these on her facebook page last week, I was very intrigued. Muffins are a favorite around here, I try to keep the freezer stocked with some at all times for easy breakfasts and snacks.

The kids ate these so fast this morning I couldn't believe it! I was a little giddy with excitement. They had no clue these were filled with all kinds of healthy goodness. I think it's just as important for kids to actually eat their vegetables without having to sneak them into their foods, but hey if it works, there's nothing wrong with that.

I got just over two dozen regular sized muffins out of my batch, plenty for me to stash away for another day. I also made some without the streusel topping and the kids loved them just as much.

Streusel Squash Muffins

2-3 yellow summer squash
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

streusel topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Wash and trim ends off of squash, slice into small pieces. Add to a medium saucepan and fill about half way with water, cook over stove for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine both flours, sugars, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside. When squash is tender, drain water and dump into a food processor or blender and puree until it's reached your desired consistency.  In a bowl, combine mashed squash, eggs, melted butter, applesauce and vanilla. Add into dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Combine struesel ingredients in a small bowl, cut in butter using a fork until mixture is crumbly. Spoon muffin batter into prepared muffin tins, top with streusel topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes and serve. Store extras in freezer for another day if desired.

Adapted from: Spookane Dinner Club

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chicken Pasta Primavera

This time of year I think we've all got tons of veggies from the garden laying around waiting to be used up. At least that's how it's been in my house lately. I really do love it, but at time it can be an overwhelming thought.

One day at lunch last week it consisted of my throwing a bunch of ingredients, namely vegetables, into a skillet and creating the dish you see above. All while crossing my fingers and praying the kiddos would eat it. Some ate better than others but for the most part all five children present gobbled it up. Score for this mom/daycare provider!

I honestly love meals like this, it's what I would call a pantry staple. All ingredients I have on hand and I can substitute for whatever veggies I have in the fridge. Plus the kids and I had a great discussion regarding what vegetables certain animals like to eat. One of my daycare boys ate all of his carrots when we talked about bunnies enjoying carrots too.  We even decided bunnies like zucchini as well. Whatever works!

Chicken Pasta Primavera

1 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
2 whole carrots, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 fresh green beans
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. basil
8 oz. pasta (I used angel hair)
1 seasoned chicken breast, cooked (I used an Italian seasoning blend)
Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add in zucchini, carrots and green beans. Let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, let cook for one minute longer.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Slice chicken breast into strips. Add cooked pasta to vegetable mixture, toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve chicken over pasta in bowls.

Speaking of vegetables, here's what was in our produce box for this week. A lovely variety! I'm excited for more kale and we even got three different varieties of basil this week. There's a lemon kind that smells wonderful, I can't wait to cook with it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chewy Butterfinger Bars

So I was thinking last week, I've clearly deprived you of treats lately. I've been so busy focusing on making sure none of our veggies from the produce box go to waste that I haven't made many desserts. A good thing, but we've got to have some chocolate now and then, right?

Well I think I've more than made up for it here. I've made for you a decadent, rich, chewy brownie like bar that's filled with all kinds of peanut butter goodness!

I seen these in the recent issue of Simple and Delicious magazine, they instantly caught my eye. I think many of you will appreciate the fact they start with a simple box cake mix. They also make a lot! Plenty for you to give to the neighbors or bring to a potluck. I split ours between my daycare families otherwise I would be constantly snacking on a piece here and there.

Oh and try yours warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A perfect brownie sundae!

Chewy Butterfinger Bars

1 box chocolate cake mix (regular size)
3.9 oz. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk plus 2 tbsp more
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
6 full size Butterfinger bars, divided
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding and flour. Add in milk, oil, melted butter and 1 egg. Stir just until moistened, add in up to 2 tbsp more milk if needed. Press half of mixture into a 15x10x1-inch baking pan lined with foil, make sure to grease foil as well. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, chop two candy bars. Stir peanut butter, vanilla and remaining egg into leftover cake batter. Fold in chopped candy bars and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.

Chop three additional candy bars and sprinkle them over warm crust, press down gently. Cover with remaining cake mixture. Crush the remaining candy bar and sprinkle over bars, top with remaining chocolate chips. Bake 25-27 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Let bars cool before cutting.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Garden Veggie Pancakes

This is how I spent my weekend! The girls and I went up to Harper's Ferry with my parents for the weekend; they have a place up there and try to make it up every weekend throughout the summer and fall.

It was relaxing, we had perfect weather and enjoyed a full day out on the water. The girls got to fish, played on the beach, went tubing and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

It's back to the grind today and even after going to bed early I'm still tired! They wear me out.

Last Thursday before we left I made up these veggie pancakes using some of our produce box. They made for a  nice little appetizer to our meal and something that most of us really enjoyed.

Before I forget, this is a glimpse of what we received for last week. Lots of cucumbers! I've also been starting to get some in my own garden. I think we'll be eating cucumbers at every. single. meal! The kids immediately ate through the carrots. I did make a small batch of pickles that night, they're pretty good but a little sweet. I prefer dill pickles, so I'll have to tinker around and see if I can come up with a good recipe.

You can incorporate any sort of veggies you have on hand, but I used carrots, zucchini, potatoes and corn. These were so good! The hubby loves hot sauce with just about anything so that's what he topped his with. I enjoyed mine with just a touch of sour cream and salsa. We added just a little bit of cheddar cheese in the batter and they were perfect. I never thought I'd be one to enjoy vegetables this much, but I really do have fun each week creating new dishes that are healthy and good for us.

Garden Veggie Pancakes

1 zucchini, grated
1 medium potato, grated (I used 2 small new potatoes)
1 medium carrot, grated
2 eggs
1/4 whole wheat flour
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Olive oil, for frying

In a medium sized bowl, combine eggs, flour and seasonings. Add in grated vegetables and stir to combine. Sprinkle in corn and cheese and combine well.

In a skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. When skillet is ready, drop batter onto skillet and let cook for a few minutes and then flip to other side. Let cook until each side is golden brown, remove to a plate lined with paper towels.  Serve immediately with desired toppings such as sour cream and salsa.

Makes about 12 pancakes. These are best served warm.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Freezer Cooking Guide

Do you dream of filling your freezer with tons of meals like this? Maybe it's an overwhelming thought and you have no clue on where to start. I'd like to help ease you into the process and encourage you along the way when it comes to freezer cooking. It's definitely something that I love and have become very passionate about. I'm no expert and there's still lots that I'm learning about, but I do love to help others save time in the kitchen by sharing tips that have helped me along the way. So let's get started.

Have a plan

It's really pretty easy to make meals ahead of time and save for a later date. Having a plan is a must! I always begin by making a list of the meals or meal components I'll be making, that way I know how much of everything will be going into the freezer and makes it easy to draw up your grocery list.

If money happens to be extra tight, I challenge you to come up with recipes using ingredients you already have on hand. Maybe you won't be making a bunch of meals per say; but having waffles, pancakes and muffins on hand will make for easy mornings.

 If you've never freezer cooked before I don't recommend making a whole day of it at first. It can be a lot of work and you'll wear yourself out and maybe not want to ever try again.

Ease into it.  Many times I will spread out my plan over the course of a few days or even a whole week. Take time to make 1-2 items each day or even double or triple your dinner and stash the extras in the freezer. It's really the easiest and most effective way to freezer cook.


I use a combination of disposable containers and freezer bags to store my meals in. I generally will not use my own bakeware because I don't want them tied up in the freezer. I will use freezer bags for meatballs, pulled pork, cookie dough, twice baked potatoes and even cinnamon rolls. The disposable containers are mostly used for casseroles and the like. Disposable makes for easy clean up and are nice for gifting meals to new parents or a friend in need.

Freezer bags are nice to stack on top of one another in the freezer, making room for many dishes. I hear all the time how people can't freezer cook because they don't have a large chest freezer. That's so not true! By using the freezer bags and stacking them you make room for so much more. Even the disposable containers don't take up much room, especially when stacked like shown above.

One more important tip regarding storage: label, label, label! Make sure you label and date each item. That way just in case you forget what it is (because you know you will!), you won't be faced with a surprise dinner!


I first learned about freezer cooking a few years back through Money Saving Mom. Check out her site, she's got some great recipes, tips and printables for you.

Other sites worth checking out for both information regarding freezer cooking and recipes:
Once a Month Mom
Life as Mom
Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats
$5 Dinners

These are just a few that I like and use on a regular basis, I'm sure there are tons more out there though!


I've found it's sort of a trial and error process with freezer cooking. Sometimes I'll think a recipe will turn out wonderfully, then we'll go to enjoy it for dinner one night and then the pasta turns out to a be a bit mushy (easy fix though, just be sure to cook pasta more al dente). I will say most everything I've ever made turns out great and we love it, but it takes some experimenting.

Start with the meals you make on a regular basis for your family, I bet most of them will work. Thumb through your favorite cookbooks, tried and true family recipes; these are a good base for your cooking plan.

The following are some tried and true freezer recipes that I rely heavily on:

Mini Pancake Bites
Strawberry Muffins
Breakfast Burritos

Main Dishes:
Taco Pasta Bake
Italian Shredded Beef
Pesto Chicken Pasta
Italian Stuffed Meatballs
Ham Balls
Chicken Penne Casserole
Chicken Enchiladas (freeze sauce separate from prepared shells)
Pizza Pockets
Taco meat/cooked ground beef
Shredded chicken for salads, tacos, etc
Marinated Chicken

Side Dishes/Extras:
Twice Baked Potatoes
Zucchini Bread
Slow Cooker Applesauce
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
Yogurt Bites

I know I've got lots more of ideas on the blog but this list should help get you started or give you new inspiration. Start by picking a few different recipes to try, you can even double them to yield more servings and see how it works for you.

I hope after reading you feel comfortable and inspired to give freezer cooking a try. It's really so much fun, even more so with a group. Gather a few other friends and make a day of it, you'll each go home with delicious meals and you'll get to enjoy some much needed time away from the kids. Read more about forming a freezer swap group here. I formed a small group two years ago and I love it. We typically only meet twice a year and would love to do it more often but you know how life is, it's hard to make one date work for everyone.

Please, if you have any additional questions, leave a comment below or email me at beentherebakedthatrecipes at yahoo dot com. I'd love to help you out as much as I can!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Easy Garlic Croutons

Have you ever made your own croutons? Yeah, me either. Until a few weeks ago when I had half a loaf of french bread sitting on my counter and needing to used up asap. Homemade croutons immediately popped into my head. Why not? How hard could they be?

I will be the first to say how easy these are to make, literally just 15 minutes total of my time, while I was preparing dinner even. I don't normally buy croutons in the store but I can guarantee these are so much better! They were the perfect topping for my salad, which was full of fresh veggies from our farm share.

So next time you've got some stale bread sitting around, you've got to promise you'll try these. Seriously they're so good! Even the girls were caught sneaking some from the pan just to munch on.

Garlic Croutons

2 cups bread cubes (I used french bread)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano

Mix together seasonings in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in the microwave and then combine with the olive oil. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle melted mixture over bread evenly. Using your hands, toss the bread cubes until everything is coated. Sprinkle in herbs and toss again using hands.

Spread bread cubes in a single layer onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Use a spatula to stir croutons a bit and then bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool just a bit and then serve with salad. Store any extras in an airtight container.

Monday, August 5, 2013

{Overnight} Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

This summer our family signed up for our very first farm share (CSA). I've talked briefly about this before but realize I haven't shared too much more on the blog. Each week on my facebook page I post a picture of our weekly share, just like the one above. Every Thursday when daycare is over for the day, the girls and I drive across town to pick up our stash for the week. It's always a nice variety and we've enjoyed trying new things.

Speaking of my facebook page, make sure you're following me on there! I sometimes post things like these pics that I don't normally share on the blog. Plus I've got a good giveaway going on right now, you'll want to make sure to check it out! I'll be drawing a winner Tuesday evening so head over and enter!

A few weeks back we also had the chance to purchase fresh whole broilers from the farmer. I've found it's not so easy to find free-range chicken or grass-fed beef in our community and really wanted to try a couple. Now I've always thought the chicken was good that I purchase from our local grocery store, they seem to have really good quality meat. But as I'm reading more and becoming more knowledgeable about how most chickens are raised; it really disgusts me and I hate the idea of feeding my family something that is full of antibiotics.

We decided as a family to purchase two for the time being. Let me tell you, they aren't cheap! At $3.35 per pound, I spent more than I ever have on two chickens. We've prepared one so far and it was so good! I split up the pieces amongst two pans. One I slathered a homemade barbecue sauce on and the other had a combination of olive oil, garlic and various spices plus some lemon.

I wish I would have taken a pic, I can't believe I forgot. They were so beautiful, well as beautiful as cooked chicken can be. I could totally taste a difference in the meat, because you can bet I surely had some "regular" cooked chicken on hand. The legs and thighs weren't as fatty either we noticed. Now I can't honestly say from here on out we will only be purchasing free-range chicken, our budget simply won't allow for that right now.  But whenever we can we most certainly will.

Since I was spending so much on one chicken, you can be sure I wasn't letting any of that bird go to waste. You should have seen me, patrolling everyone's plates as they were done. Making sure no bones whatsoever were thrown away. I was surely making some more chicken stock for the freezer.

Now I've already posted about homemade chicken stock before. But this time I came across a way to make it in the slow cooker, overnight while we were sleeping or even during the day when you're going about your usual business. If I can save myself some time in the kitchen then I'm game.

I put everything in the slow cooker before bedtime one night and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up to the most amazing smell in our house! I almost thought I had some sort of chicken and noodles or soup going until I remembered it was the stock.

Even look at the difference in color from the first picture to the second. The first one is the stock I made last year with a typical chicken most us purchase from our grocery store. The second one is made from the free-range chicken I purchased from a local farmer. It's so much darker and much more flavorful in my opinion.

Whichever type of chicken you use to make homemade stock, you'll definitely want to give this easy slow cooker version a try! It can't be any easier to make and you'll love being able to pull a container out of your freezer any time you need some for a recipe.

{Overnight} Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Leftover bones/carcass from one whole chicken
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole carrots, chopped (I didn't even peel)
1 bay leaf
sprinkling of parsley and thyme, don't worry about exact measurements
salt to taste
*celery would also be good to add as with any other veggies on hand

Add all ingredients to slow cooker, make sure to remove any meat from bones for another use. Fill slow cooker with water, leaving about 1 inch at the top. Cover and turn on low, let cook overnight or for at least 8-9 hours during the day.

When stock is done, ladle soup to pass through a fine mesh sieve to remove all bones, veggies and herbs. You can leave this in the slow cooker or I ladled it into a large bowl to let cool. Let stock cool either on counter or in fridge for 24 hours. At this point the fat will rise to the top, skim this off to remove.

Transfer stock to freezer containers or mason jars. You can also freeze small portions in ice cube trays and transfer to a freezer bag when solid. Store in freezer for future use.

Source: 100 days of real food

Friday, August 2, 2013

Grilled Bacon Caprese Sandwich

I apologize for the lack of consistency with my posts this week, it's certainly been one of those weeks. We enjoyed a beautiful day at a local amusement park (well still two hours away) yesterday with our family. It's been years since we've been able to go and since the girls are a little older now, we knew they'd have a blast.

It really was the most beautiful day, the sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, maybe a little too hot in the sun at times but nothing a visit to their waterpark couldn't fix. The kiddos were all so well behaved and we were exhausted by the time we got home late last night. I only wish I would have taken more pics, but that's okay, we created a memory filled day that I hope the girls always remember!

Our youngest two have been enjoying lots of homemade popsicles lately, we love making our own and creating new flavors. These were just simply frozen lemonade, which they quickly devoured.

Okay back to this sandwich. It's nothing real fancy, no complicated ingredients; but man is it ever good! I've literally been waiting to make this for a long time now, waiting for fresh, ripe tomatoes from the garden. Well mine aren't exactly ready yet, I've still got lots of green ones but we've been purchasing some every weekend at our local farmers' market.

I dreamed this up one day. I have this problem a lot actually, I'll suddenly think of a new recipe whether it's a dessert, sandwich or casserole dish. Maybe it will come to me in a dream or I'll just think of it out of the blue. Is that weird? Maybe it's a foodie thing lol.

You'll have to make this as soon as you get your hands on some fresh tomatoes! You're gonna love it I promise. I could go for another one right now.

Grilled Bacon Caprese Sandwich

Bacon, cooked
Tomato, sliced
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Basil pesto
Good quality bread


Heat a small skillet over the stove. Butter the outsides of two slices of bread, spread pesto on the inside of the both slices. Place one slice of bread, butter side down in the skillet. Top with bacon, sliced tomato and mozzarella cheese. Place last slice of bread, butter side up on top of sandwich. Let cook on both sides until golden brown. Remove onto a plate, cut in half and enjoy!

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