Homemade Egg McMuffins

It doesn’t matter who you are, it seems like a common thread is that mornings are crazy. Now that we’ve hit the autumn, kids (and teachers) are back to school, adding to the flurry of excitement that is morning time.

We don’t always have time to make a full breakfast. With my husband in residency, he needs a good solid breakfast to get him started. It also needs to be fast. And healthy because I’d like to keep him forever.
Although people frequently slam McDonalds, their Egg McMuffin actually is a really decent breakfast. However, as a chain, their food uses who knows what ingredients to preserve their products. It’s also more expensive to purchase one than it is to make one!

However, it also takes some time. Time we do not have in our morning. So, I decided I’d create an egg sandwich that we could keep in the freezer and quickly warm up in the morning. In less than a minute, my sweetie has a wholesome complete breakfast.
You can just get your eggs, or even bake them. I wanted them approximately the size of an English muffin, so I used a greased cookie cutter in the pan to form my egg patties. I couldn’t find my circle shape anywhere, so Christmas ornament eggs it was! I also didn’t want to take the time to dirty up another bowl, so I just cracked the egg directly into the pan and stirred it briefly. You can alternatively mix your eggs ahead of time and pour them into a cookie cutter if you prefer!

Easy Egg McMuffins

Ingredients (yield 6)

Six Eggs

Six English Muffins

Six slices of Cheese

12 slices of bacon (or 6 sausage patties)

Directions

  1. Coat a circle-shaped cookie cutter with Pam or butter. Place into warm pan.
  2. Crack egg into cookie cutter. Stir with fork until mixed. Cook on medium-high heat until set.
  3. Use heat-safe tongs to flip egg in cookie cutter. Cook egg throughout. When cooked, turn egg into wax paper.
  4. Repeat with remaining eggs, coating cookie cutter each time.
  5. While eggs are cooking, slice and toast English muffins until preferred doneness.
  6. In a separate pan (or in the microwave) cook bacon according to package directions.
  7. When all items are cooked, assemble sandwiches. Let cool to room temperature and wrap each in tin foil. Place in freezer-safe ziplock bag.

We like to take out our sandwiches the night before and then we need just 30 seconds to the perfect breakfast. Enjoy!


 
  
  
  
  

Cuddle Fairy

The Simplest Crockpot Lasagna

My dad recently came to visit our little family. I have never gone so long without seeing my dad before, so I was very excited to have him over. Growing up, my dad was the main chef in the family. I wanted to show him all the yummy things I had been making recently. I know that he absolutely LOVES lasagna, so I decided to give it a go.

I am not sure about where you are, but in August it gets mighty hot where I live! The idea of a lasagna cooking away in the oven seemed like a bad idea. So I turned to my favorite kitchen appliance-my crockpot. The idea of a lasagna cooking away all day without heating up my kitchen sounded GREAT! This would also allow me to take my dad to the zoo with Cupcake. She has recently become super interested in animals and I figured that’d be a heck of a lot more enjoyable than him watching me cook.

My dad is a great many things. He is brilliant, witty and always supportive. He also can be a bit particular. I was nervous to say the least. If he didn’t like it, I’d know. And then I’d be sad. Thankfully he LOVED it! He ate it and then started inquiring into how much we really wanted to have for leftovers. Cupcake devoured her portion. It was delicious and I am looking forward to making it again.

This recipe is very basic and simple. There aren’t a whole lot of veggies in it, but you could easily add a layer of that in! I am planning on making it later this week with a layer of sautéed spinach and onions. Yummy!

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey

29 oz can of tomato sauce

8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles (I use the no-bake kind, but any kind works)

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1.5 cups cottage cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for top layer

Directions

  1. Brown meat in a skillet and drain off fat
  2. Stir in tomato sauce and mix well
  3. Spread 1/4 meat sauce on bottom of crockpot
  4. Arrange 1/3 uncooked noodles over sauce (Break them to make them fit)
  5. Combine 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese with cottage cheese is a bowl. Spoon 1/3 cheese mixture over noodles.
  6. Repeat sauce-noodle-cheese layers twice.
  7. Top lasagna with remaining sauce. Cover with 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. Cook 4 hours over low. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

 Let me know what you think!

Easy Breaded Chicken 

Yesterday I posted my “recipe” for homemade bread crumbs. Since realizing that I could make a healthy, clean bread crumb filled with only ingredients I can pronounce- I have been on a quest for all things breaded! After months of setting aside some of my favorite recipes, the floodgates have opened. I have since breaded chicken multiple times, made my own fish sticks, and I am already trying to figure out how to get away with another day or two of breaded meals this week.

This recipe is insanely easy. It requires almost no prep time. I was able to do it all while Cupcake colored. If you know anything about 16 month old attention spans, you know that that is quite an accomplishment!

So without further ado..

Easy Breaded Chicken

Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs

2 eggs

1 T mayonaise

1.5 cups bread crumbs (you can use a store bought kind, or use my “recipe” for clean and healthy bread crumbs!)

If using unseasoned bread crumbs- add 1 t garlic powder, 1 t Italian seasoning and salt/pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Trim any excess fat off your chicken. Set aside.
  2. Turn broiler to high.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the eggs and mayo.
  4. In a separate bowl, add bread crumbs (and optional seasoning)
  5. Dip chicken first into egg/mayo mixture and then into bread crumbs. Be sure to coat entire piece. Place on foil-lined pan.
  6. Put pan in oven. Cook for approx. 8 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.


 

    

Homemade Bread Crumbs

In the life of a blogger, there comes a moment when you are about to hit “publish” on a post and you wonder if what you are writing is sincerely foolish. I mean, a recipe for bread crumbs? I don’t even know if I can call it that in good faith! However, I once had to look up a “recipe” for bread crumbs and I wanted to share it with you all. Maybe it’s not so much of a recipe, but rather a method. Either way you put it, it seems crazy because it is so SO simple.

This was where the problem started. Dear Cupcake had a milk protein intolerance that she has thankfully outgrown. As a nursing mama, however, I had to completely eliminate any sources of this protein from my diet for the first year of her life. I went on a rampage! I read every label. I called and contacted many companies and restaurants. I talked up every waiter I could and wrote in special requests at weddings. I was that person, but I was willing to do anything to ensure that my baby girl wasn’t in pain from me consuming any delicious, wonderful, magical dairy.

I had to seriously alter the way I cooked. I am half-Italian, so cheese was a pretty favorite food of mine. It was easy enough to cut that out of recipes. What wasn’t easy? Realizing how many foods have dairy hidden in them! My favorite bread crumbs was one such item that I had to eliminate. I remembering sitting in my kitchen with the canister in my hand. I looked at the ingredient list, found the offending dairy, and realized we had an even bigger problem than I thought. If you ever want to make yourself sad (and waste about five minutes trying to decode unusual words), look at the ingredient label of your favorite bread crumbs.

So, I gave up bread crumbs. I gave up making breaded chicken. We no longer had fish sticks. We no longer made my favorite pork chop recipe. I was sad. Even after I could have dairy again, I couldn’t fully accept my old bread crumbs anymore. I mean, if I don’t know what’s in it, do I want to put it in my body? In Cupcake’s body?

It wasn’t until last Tuesday that a silly idea hit me. As a family, we were now exclusively relying on bread I made from scratch. It definitely doesn’t last as long as the store bought kind in the fridge. By day 5, it starts losing some of it’s softness, but we just couldn’t always eat it fast enough. I wondered what I could do with the three slices we had leftover before they went stale.

Bread crumbs. 

I could make bread crumbs. I could make breaded chicken with homemade bread crumbs! But, how on earth do you do that? It seems silly to just use bread, right? There has to be some magical list of ingredients or some special process, right?

I sent my hubby to play with Cupcake while I started my experiment in the kitchen. A few websites suggested baking it, but it was 95 degrees outside and I did not want to turn my oven on! I decided I would toast my bread. In order to avoid it burning, I did three cycles on a low setting.

Then, I laid out the toast on a cookie rack to allow any extra steam to escape. Once the bread had cooled, I added it to my food processor and voila! Bread crumbs. Three slices of my homemade bread yielded about 1.5 c of bread crumbs. It was that easy. I used them just the way I would use the store-bought kind. Being made from my homemade bread, they were pretty simple on flavor. When cooking, I decided to add Italian seasoning and salt.

So, again, I feel silly even writing this. Maybe the thought that bread crumbs should only really have bread in it has already crossed your mind. However, if you are like me and have taken nearly 30 years to come to this realization, I hope this helps! I used this first batch to make a super simple breaded chicken (recipe to come!) and it tasted so much better than I could have hoped!

Since I have rediscovered my ability to make all things breaded, what are your favorite recipes that require bread crumbs? Comment below with your links!

Stretching the Budget

I have always been someone who thinks frugally. I started keeping a budget at 15! I have no idea what prompted me to do so, but I thought it’d be smart saving for the future. It is times like now that I am so appreciative of this.

If you’re a frequent reader, you know that I am a SAHM to my favorite little girl, Cupcake. My husband just started his medical residency. A common misconception is that because my husband is a doctor, we are rolling in the money. This could not be further from the truth! To put it in comparison, I made more as an elementary school teacher.

So our family has had to look at things from all angles. I grew up with a working mom and always saw her as strong and motivated. I was proud of her for working. However, this did not seem like the right fit for me. Prior to having Cupcake, my students were my “babies.” I stayed late at work and arrived early. One of my favorite custodians used to always tease me that I was “still here.” He had to walk me out to my car on numerous occasions.

I am positive that there is a teacher out there who has a spouse completing residency, all the while raising a family. If you are that person, I bow down to you. I literally could not figure out how to make it work. The cost of childcare alone would eat into essentially my whole paycheck. When we factored in all the variables, we decided that the best fit for our family was for me to stay home with Cupcake.

Although I am not earning a paycheck, I am greatly helping our family by finding ways to save us money. I have the time to research coupons and plan my shopping trips better. I can cook from scratch, saving us the expense of having to pick up prepared meals. And all of this is still pushing it.

So, part of my “job” is looking for ways to reduce our grocery bill. I almost wish I didn’t care about preparing healthy meals so much. One of our biggest expenses is our food budget. Recently, I have been looking for more ways to cut down. I update our budget weekly, and with the numbers staring me in the face, I knew I had to find more ways to cut back. Thank goodness we live in the modern day, where finding more budget-conscious recipes are just a Google search away!

I have several websites that I use, but you all know my love for Ms. Andrea at Pennies and Pancakes. If you haven’t checked her out, please do! She has amazing recipes that not only taste great, they are very affordable. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on bread? Yea. Look for upcoming posts with some of my favorites from her website!

How about you? What are some of your favorite money-saving ideas? Please pass them along in the comments section below!

Sausage and Peppers Pasta

My sweet husband loves sausage and peppers. It is one of his favorite meals. Since it is his intern year of residency, he has been working an insane amount of hours and we rarely get to eat dinner together. Most of the time, he gets home well after Cupcake is asleep. I always leave him a plate in the refrigerator, but it definitely is not the same. So when I realized that he would be home tonight for dinner with us there was only one option!

As I was starting to pull out the ingredients, I found a half filled container of kale from my most recent kale chip adventure. If I knew it didn’t have much time left so I threw that in. The small amount of kale looked silly so I added in some spinach, too. When Chris walked in, he was so excited despite having just come off of a 30 hour shift. Success!

Ingredients

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c kale

1 c spinach

2 T olive oil

1 t minced garlic

1 lb pasta, cooked according to package

Directions

1. Add sausage links to pan and cook over medium-heat until cooked thoroughly.

2.  In a seperate pan, add olive oil, garlic and salt over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, kale and spinach and saute until greens are wilted and onions/peppers are tender.

3. Slice sausage into bite sized pieces. Add to vegetable mixture.

4. Serve over pasta .


Domesticated Momster

Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

One of my favorite features of our new place is our pantry in the kitchen. I like being able to stock up on items we need ahead of time. It brings me comfort to know we have most of the essentials on hand. Every month I go through the pantry to make sure I am not letting anything go to waste. Foods that are nearing expiration are quickly put into the line-up.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered an unopened box of Swiss Miss, set to expire in just a few short days! Now, I usually like to eat pretty cleanly and quite honestly, this does not fit the bill. I typically prefer to make my hot cocoa from scratch. We received this as a gift and Swiss Miss always reminds me of my childhood. I was so excited to use it!

Except, I had less than a week to use it. During a heat wave. In July. Not ideal hot cocoa time. So, I started wracking my brain for different ways to use it when a huge brownie craving hit. It was also late and I didn’t have the time or patience to sit around for the oven to preheat. I had made cake in a mug before, so I decided to attempt brownie in a mug. The first time I made it, I sort of just threw ingredients in the mug without any measuring and stirred until it looked right. I also ate it all without abandon and didn’t take a single picture.

So, because I know you all need them, I had to suffer through a second night of brownie in a mug to get the measurements and take pictures. The things I do for you all.


  
  
  
 Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients

1 package instant hot cocoa (1 oz.)

3 T flour

1 T canola oil or butter

2 T water

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe mug. Stir until hot cocoa powder is dissolved.

2. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Continue cooking for 10 seconds until brownie is complete. It is ready when the edges are cooked, but the center will still be gooey.

3. Let cool for 2 minutes.

I still have quite a bit of hot cocoa to use up. Do you have any fun recipes I should try? Leave them in the comments section below!

Domesticated Momster

Easy Crockpot Clean-Eating Thai Chicken

You know what seems really terrible? Teething.

My poor Cupcake is currently working on adding eight more teeth to her little mouth. She is in a ton of pain. She is drooling all over the place, not sleeping well, and barely eating. As a result, I have a very clingy little girl who just needs her mama!

You all know that I try to cook in a “clean” way.I try to not drive myself too crazy about it (I’m looking at you delicious Oreos), but overall I do attempt to make clean recipes. Often when I am looking online for some momming inspiration in the kitchen, I find what looks like a great recipe. That is, until I realize it is either labor or ingredient intensive. Mama ain’t got no time for that, especially with a sad Cupcake on my hands.

After searching for a little, I kept coming across a few recipes for Thai-inspired chicken. I noticed a theme and started pulling bits and pieces from different recipes. I decided I wanted something I could literally just dump in the crockpot without doing anything extra. That is the type of easy I wanted. Plus, with the crockpot doing all of the work for me, I had more time to hang out with my favorite little lady and cheer her up!

I was surprised with how simple prep was (approximately 5 minutes), how good this was! I have made it using chicken breast, thighs or drumsticks. Pick whichever is your favorite or on sale this week, depending on your needs!

This recipe can also be made as “clean” as you want. It does have soy sauce, which in my house we use, but it’s up to you if you’d prefer a substitute! All of our ingredients are from clean brands, but you’ll have to read the labels carefully if that’s your thing.

Little side note, store brand natural peanut butters tend to be made of only peanuts and salt. Brand name ones include sugar and added oils. So, I save money and get my clean pb? Works for us!

Onto the deliciousness…

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken
1/2 c salsa
1/4 c peanut butter
3 T soy sauce
3 T lime juice
3 T water
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground garlic

(Using freshly chopped ginger and minced garlic would probably be super yummy, but again, no time).

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients into ziplock bag. Shake, massage, etc. to spread ingredients all over chicken.
2. Dump bag and all contents into crockpot.
3. Cook on low 6-8 hours

I serve ours with rice and cooked veggies for a delightfully awesome dinner.

I apologize for the lack of pictures! Once my hubby got home last night, it was time to eat and then put Cupcake (and this Mama) to bed! I will try to get some for the next time we make this and update!

Homemade Hummus without Tahini 

After my husband and I really sat down to evaluate our budget, we realized that we could be doing better in terms of our spending on food.

Although I have benefitted in the past from couponing, that can become a full-time job in itself. I mostly want to find ways to cut back in terms of the types of food we purchase and prepare.

Cupcake is a tad bit obsessed with hummus.

 We go through A LOT of this stuff. I realized that making my own could be one way to try and save.

This recipe is super simple. You basically just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and press start. Voila!

I have found that the most important part is to peel the skins off the chickpeas. Some people skip this step, and the hummus will be fine- I promise. However, by peeling the skins, you get a much smoother texture. I prefer the flavor, too!

Ingredients

1 15 oz can chickpeas, reserve liquid

1 T minced garlic

2 T cumin

1/4 – 1/2t salt, depending on preference

1 T olive oil

Directions

1. Drain chickpeas. Reserve liquid.

2. Remove shells from chickpeas

3. Add chickpeas, 3 T of reserved liquid, garlic, cumin, salt and oil to food processor (or in my case, the Baby Bullet since I don’t have a grown up one haha)

4. Add more liquid as needed to reach desired consistency.

I can’t wait to try adding other spice combinations! So good and SO simple!
Disclaimer: this may or may not actually save you money because it’s so yummy you will want to eat it all. 🙂

Homemade Rolls 

I do not know what has gotten into me! I have been obsessed with homemade bread lately. You’d think that the weather outside would have been damp and chilly, but no. I just really LOVE homemade bread!

After trying out this awesome recipe for Homemade French Bread, I was really excited. It tasted amazing and was much easier than I thought. It was much more cost affordable and definitely much healthier!

The only downside was that the recipe took a bit longer than I preferred to spend when I have this cutie pie hanging around.


So I was super excited when I found out that the lovely Ms. Andrea at Pennies and Pancakes had a recipe for hamburger buns that took less than an hour from start to finish! I wish I could take credit for the delicious recipe, but she so deserves it!

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or just over 4 cups whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg

Directions 
Warm the milk, water, and butter in the microwave. Stir until butter is melted and let cool until warm, but not hot.

Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add in milk mixture and then add the egg. Your dough should be only slightly sticky. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a large, greased baking sheet. Lightly press down on the top of each ball of dough, so that the top is more flat than rounded. They will puff up more during rising and baking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve as desired, and store for 3-5 days on the counter, or 4-6 months in the freezer.

Before

After!

I am telling you, this was the easiest thing to make! My father-in-law had one and proclaimed that he was officially handing over the reigns and that I was now in charge of making buns for the holidays. This is the same man who drove six hours to our house with coolers filled with food so he could prep it himself for us. He loves to cook, so to pass any of it on to me, I’d say we have a winner!

When these came out of the oven, Cupcake was napping. I split one open and may have let out a little squeal. I grabbed a bit of olive oil and sea salt and I was in HEAVEN. Anyone who is nervous about making homemade bread should definitely start here. My only regret is that I did not find this recipe sooner!