Tag Archives: homemade

Easy Chicken Green Chile Enchiladas

I’m afraid I don’t have many pictures for this post, but this recipe is so easy you won’t need them!

I love  enchiladas, but I really don’t like spending half and hour cooking corn tortillas before I can even start! This easy recipe uses flour tortillas and precooked rice and chicken to make a meal that is quick and easy to put together (and delicious, if I do say so myself).

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Easy Chicken Green Chile Enchiladas (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

8 burrito-size flour tortillas

1 can green chile enchilada sauce

2 cups cooked rice

1 cup cooked, shredded chicken

1 8 oz package cream cheese

mozzerella and cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

1. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 backing dish. Spread the sauce to make a thin layer on the entire bottom of the pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix rice, cream cheese, shredded meat, and a large handful of cheddar cheese. If you like spicy enchiladas, you can also mix in some hot sauce or salsa.

3. Spread 1 tablespoon of enchilada sauce down the center of each tortilla. Top with 1/3 cup of the rice mixture, then roll up burrito-style. Place each rolled enchilada in the pan.

4. Once all 8 enchiladas are rolled, pour more enchilada sauce over the top. Make sure there is at least a thin coating over all exposed tortilla so that it doesn’t dry out in the oven.

5. Sprinkle the top generously with mozzerella or cheddar (or both, like I did!).

6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot all the way through.

Enjoy!

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How to Mix Your Own Chicken Feed! (Feed Calculator file included)

I like to avoid soy in our family’s diet, so it makes sense that I would want to avoid soy when feeding my chickens as well. Most commercial chicken feeds use soybeans as the main protein source. There are soy-free blends out there, but they are MUCH more expensive and I like knowing exactly what’s going into the chickens’ food.

So I make my own. With ingredients from the grocery store!

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My regular feed consists of old-fashioned oats, split peas, cracked wheat, and flax seeds. And that’s all.

I also ferment the feed before giving it to the chickens. You can read about all the benefits of fermenting feed here.

This is what the feed looks like after fermenting and draining:

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There are SO many benefits to fermenting animal feeds. I highly recommend that you check it out!

Now, back to the feed composition…

This is my homemade feed calculator. It allows me to figure out what the protein content is with different combinations of ingredients.

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This spreadsheet is fully customizable – all you have to do is add rows to add other ingredients. You can find crude protein percentages for feed ingredients here. You could also do a Google search of “crude protein percentage (ingredient name)”

The total protein percentage is found by multiplying each ingredient’s protein content by the number of pounds being used in a 100 pound batch of feed. These totals are added up, and the total pounds of protein per 100 pounds is equal to the crude protein content in  your feed.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a complete layer/grower/starter feed.

Oyster shell is required for calcium (for hard egg shells).

My chickens also get a lot of greens in the form of weeds from the garden, extra fruits and veggies, and wheatgrass, which I grow hydroponically as fodder. The chickens get plenty of vitamins and minerals from all of our kitchen scraps as well.

This is a vegetarian formula, but I also give the chickens meal worms and calf liver for animal protein. When The Mister and I start raising catfish or Tilapia, we may use fishmeal as a protein source.

Here’s a link to a downloadable version of my feed calculator.

Happy feeding!

The Joys of Freezer Cooking

Before Rachael (#3) was born, I filled my freezer with casseroles and other one-pan meals I had found online. I never tried any of the recipes ahead of time to make sure we actually liked them (can you see where I’m going with this?).  We were lucky with most of the meals I made, but there were definitely a few that I’ve never made again. My freezer full of meals was also expensive. I used a lot of convenient ingredients, like boneless chicken breast tenders and frozen cooked potatoes. I decided that freezer cooking simply wasn’t for me!

Towards the end of my most recent pregnancy, I started thinking about freezer cooking again. I wanted convenience and ease after the baby was born, but I didn’t want to waste time and money on casserole-type meals that we wouldn’t enjoy. My prior experience taught me that we simply aren’t casserole people. I decided that instead of making full meals, I could make and freeze the most time-consuming portions of each meal — things like yeast breads and doughs and other quick breads. These were easy to make and I was able to use tried-and-true recipes that I already knew we liked.

By the time Michael (#4) was born, my freezer was packed with all kinds of goodies. My mother-in-law was able to stay with us for about 2 weeks, so I wanted to make sure that she had easy meal options to feed the other 3 kids while The Mister and I were at the hospital. A few of the things I made ahead of time included biscuits, cinnamon rolls, freezer-friendly baked oatmeal, sandwich bread, and pizza dough and sauce.

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Being the wonderful and kind woman that she is, my mother-in-law didn’t use ANY of my pre-made foods! She said they would be more useful after she went home and we were on our own again. And she was right. Going from three kids to four kids wasn’t as hard from the transition from two to three, but it was still certainly a challenge, especially since I now had two children in cloth diapers!

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The frozen foods lasted about a month, and I can’t even begin to say how much I enjoyed the convenience. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or energy to replace the frozen foods as I used them, and even as the baby grew I didn’t have the drive to spend that much time in the kitchen.

Today, a moment of inspiration hit me and I spent most of the day in the kitchen. I made 4 batches’ worth of homemade muffin mix, 2 breakfasts’ worth of freezer-friendly baked oatmeal, 2 batches of biscuits, 2 batches of pizza dough, and 4 batches of cinnamon rolls.

The biscuits were made in the food processor and cut using my shortcut, which saved a TON of time! I promise, square biscuits are just as tasty.

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These two are (unbaked) oven oatmeal. One will be used tomorrow, the other will be stashed in the freezer.

When I finished my work and pulled everything back out to take pictures, I realized that my pizza dough was put into containers that were much too small! Oops.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the fruits of today’s labor!

Hearty Homestead Meals: Crispy Tangy Chicken

Yesterday, The Mister discovered a flourishing grape-vine at an unoccupied property near ours. I’m sincerely hoping that the home is still unoccupied this winter when the vine goes dormant, so I can collect a few canes to plant next spring! The Mister thinks it’s some kind of wine grape – they’re small, sweet, and plentiful. I’m already envisioning grapevines as living shade for the chicken run!

Anyway, the task at hand – delicious chicken. Most of the meat we eat around here is chicken, mostly because it’s so cheap. I buy 10-pound bags of leg quarters for $7 at my closest WinCo. The bag usually makes 3-4 meals for us (although that will change as the children and their appetites grow!).

Chicken can get boring quickly, so the key is to have a variety of ways to prepare the same cut of meat. Without further ado, here’s a recipe for crispy, cheesy, tangy chicken that takes 5 minutes to prepare.

Crispy Tangy Chicken

6 servings

6 pieces bone-in chicken, skinned and trimmed

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Arrange chicken pieces in a greased pan. Take the mayonnaise out of the jar and put it into a separate dish so that the entire jar doesn’t get contaminated by the raw chicken.

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Using a knife, spread about 2 teaspoons of mayonnaise onto each piece of chicken. This seems like a lot, but a lot of it will melt off. The purpose of the mayonnaise is to seal the juices into the meat to keep it moist.

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Next, sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese over the chicken pieces. I don’t really measure, I just make sure there’s a fair amount on each piece of chicken. It’s probably about 2 teaspoons per piece of chicken.

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Last, sprinkle the seasoned bread crumbs over the chicken. The bread crumbs need to be in a fairly thin layer, or they will stay dry and crumbly.

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Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes, or until juices run clear. Enjoy!

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We think this chicken is particularly good when served with rice and a spinach salad.

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How to make Creamy Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a staple breakfast around here – rich, filling, and slightly sweet, it always makes the kids happy! I usually make a fish and rice dinner on Friday evenings, so I just make extra rice to use on Saturday morning!
We prefer our rice pudding chilled, but it is just as delicious when it’s hot. Depending on your preferences, you can make it right when you want to eat it, or you can make it the night before and have it ready to go in the fridge.

Start with leftover or freshly cooked rice. I use about 1/2 cup cooked rice per person. Dump the rice in a heavy pot. For 6 servings, I usually use a 3-quart pot.

Add enough milk to cover the rice.

It doesn’t look like much right now, but it will be delicious and creamy soon! Add sugar or honey next.

My ratio of rice:milk:sugar is 2:4:1. That’s 2 parts rice, 4 parts milk, 1 part white sugar.

Next, add cinnamon and/or nutmeg to taste.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes, until the rice is nice and soft. This usually takes about half an hour.  If you’re using freshly made rice, it may take less time. Be careful not to scorch the bottom!

While you wait, prepare your eggs. My rule of thumb is 1 egg per cup of milk. You could certainly add more if you want a more custard-like pudding. In case you haven’t noticed, this is an extremely flexible recipe!

(Optional: separate and set aside whites. They can be beaten into meringue at the end to make your rice pudding extra creamy and light!)Whisk eggs thoroughly or run them through a blender. Slimy strings are to be avoided at all costs!

When your rice mixture is soft and warm, you’ll need to temper the eggs. This means slowly bringing the temperature up so that the eggs don’t scramble. Do this by adding one spoonful of hot milk/rice at a time.

 

When the eggs are hot, slowly pour them into the pudding, stirring the entire time. (Pretend I’m stirring. I didn’t have enough hands to do this and take pictures at the same time!)

Continue cooking and stirring until the pudding thickens. It will be the consistency of thin oatmeal when it’s done. You can continue cooking liquid off or even add a bit of cornstarch if you’d like it to be thicker.

At this point, you can consider yourself done! Cool and serve.

OR, if you separated your egg whites, dump them into a stand mixer. You could also use a hand mixer. Beat the whites until frothy, then add a tablespoon of sugar for every 2 egg whites. 4 eggs = 2 tbsp sugar. Continue beating at high speed until peaks form. Carefully fold the meringue into the cooled pudding and enjoy!

Note: If you include the meringue, there  will be some raw egg white in your finished pudding. If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t separate the eggs before adding them to the pudding.

Kitchen hacks: pizza sauce and beautiful muffins

I’m not putting pizza sauce on my beautiful muffins. Just thought I’d make that clear. 😉

Homemade pizza is a staple around here. Thin crust, thick crust, round, square, and covered in different kinds of toppings. Making pizza is definitely a frugal activity – it costs WAY less, especially with bulk ingredients purchased at places like Costco! I’m pretty sure my homemade pizzas even cost less than cheap frozen pizzas.

Making pizza can be frustratingly time-consuming, though. The rising of the dough doesn’t really bother me, because that’s inactive time and I can do something else. Assembling the pizza, though, can definitely be sped up! The best way to do this is to have ingredients ready in manageable quantities.

The answer is pizza sauce cubes!

Start with your favorite sauce. I like to use cheap spaghetti sauce.

If you’re making a pizza right now, use what you need from the can. Then take the rest of the sauce and grab an empty ice-cube tray.

Carefully spoon your sauce into the cells. Overflowing cells are harder to empty once they’re frozen, so don’t overfill them!

Freeze, then dump the cubes into a freezer zip bag. Now, any time you need a small amount of sauce, you’re good to go! I use about 4 cubes per pizza, but we go pretty light on the sauce.  Whenever you need sauce, stick a few into a microwavable  cup or bowl, cover, and heat for about 3 minutes, stirring once  every minute to break up ice clumps.

Here’s a pin for Pinterest, if you feel so inclined.

Now, on to beautiful muffins!

Most of the time, muffin recipes say to fill the cups only 2/3 full. This results in a rather wimpy looking muffin. Recently, I’ve started filling my muffin cups all the way to the brim!

I have also started using more baking powder to get a higher rise and more fluffiness. I use about a heaping teaspoon per cup of flour in the recipe.

The end result?

Gloriously tall muffins. Adding a pinch of sparkling sugar on top before baking makes them even more impressive, but I didn’t do that this time.

Want a great muffin recipe? Try Sparkling Jumbo Blueberry Muffins over at Sally’s Baking Addiction! They are wonderful.

And last, but not least… I’m trying to think of something more wonderful than having a sleeping baby on my lap. And I am failing.

Kitchen Hacks and Camping

First off… the camping didn’t really happen. We made it to Horse Thief Springs, played for about 3 hours, then my poor two year old started throwing up and running a fever. For the few hours we were there, the kids had fun.

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ImageWe came home and made s’mores on the grill in the backyard instead.

Secondly, Kitchen Hacks! I’m always looking for shortcuts in the kitchen, especially during the hot summers. My kitchen is usually the warmest room in the house. As much as I enjoy cooking, it’s not fun in a 95-degree kitchen.

Today’s shortcut: biscuits!

Start with your favorite biscuit recipe. Mine is from Comfortably Domestic.

I throw everything but the liquid in the food processor and mix it up, then slowly add the liquid (milk in this case). Instant biscuit dough!

Instead of rolling and cutting, I pat my dough into a nice big square. Then I slice it up with a pizza cutter. I’m done cutting in 10 seconds instead of five minutes or more.

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And they turn out just as lovely.

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Hint: they’re even prettier when they’re spread with homemade strawberry jam!

Here’s an image for Pinterest, if you feel so inclined.

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