Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love to bake cookies and have been looking for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe since I was like 12 years old. Looking back I think to myself how patient my mother was with me when I messed up and wasted all those ingredients. Well, I think I finally found THE recipe! I found this recipe on the internet on the Betty Crocker website! (That Betty knows what she's doing!) I used the recipe that I found and the cookies turned out beautifully! (I also think my new mixer helped a lot.) I have taken the cookies to a few play dates and have made them for family and they have passed the taste test! My hubby even likes to eat the dough, although I wouldn't recommend it since it has raw egg.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I added this)
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring (I added this as well)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use slightly less than this)
1 cup chocolate chips (I cut the original amount in half)
(I did make a few adjustments to the recipe. You can find the original recipe here.)

Cream the butter, sugars, vanilla, butter flavoring, and egg.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.

Add the chocolate chips. I stir them in with a fork or a spoon.

Scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. I love using my cookie scoop. The cookies bake more evenly! Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown in an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees.

Transfer to a cooling rack to cool, then enjoy!

Happy baking!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fried Rice

We love rice in our house! I made this recipe for fried rice one night when we were looking for a different side dish. Now I make it several times a month!

Fried Rice
Cooked brown rice, enough for four servings (we like brown and instant is best!)
1/8 cup soy sauce
4 TBSP butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
chopped onion, to taste
3-4 eggs, whisked (we like LOTS of egg in ours!)
In a pan, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic powder, and pepper and cook till the onions start to get transparent.

Add the rice, parsley, and soy sauce, heat through.

Move all the rice to one side of the pan and add your eggs. cook and stir the eggs on their side until they are done.

Mix the cooked eggs through the rice and serve!

Feel free to add anything that you like! You can add chicken, beef, or pork. You can add vegetables such as peas, carrots, or corn. You can add whatever is in season or what you have in your garden! I have added banana peppers and asparagus in the past.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Fun

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year! I'll take lemonade, lightning bugs, swimming, and sand anytime of the year!

Linking up to Pinke Post!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saving Savvy: Coupons for Cover Girl!

I have been on a saving frenzy lately! I have to admit that TLC's "Extreme Couponing" might be rubbing off on me just a tad. I can't be extreme like the people featured on the show. Who dumpster dives for coupons anyway? That's just crazy! But I am getting some good tips on savings dollars by watching the show. One tip that I saw was to email companies directly to let them know you like their product. Some companies will send you coupons. So I emailed companies of all my favorite products! Every company I emailed had a link right on their website to send a message. So far I have only gotten coupons from one brand of a particular company, and that brand is Cover Girl. They sent me a $2.00 off coupon and a free product coupon. Wahoo!!!!! So I used my coupons and went shopping the other day. Here is my breakdown of savings.

2 Cover Girl NatureLuxe products $14.48
1 Cover Girl eyeshadow $3.14
Total $17.62
Total in coupons was $12.14
Making my total makeup purchase only $5.48!

My total savings for my entire trip was $49.72! I really hope I hear from more of my favorite brands!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Neighborhood Friend

We have a new friend in the neighborhood! While getting ready this morning I saw him out the window. Have you ever seen a squirrel with white paws and a white tail? (Are they called paws on squirrels?) I think he's neat! Holly sure likes to watch him out the window! Anyways, I got some pictures this morning of our new frolicking friend and thought I'd share. Here is the best one, but I still apologize for the poor quality!

our new friend, aka Rascal

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes

I mad a major fail in the kitchen the other night! I mean major. While cooking the potatoes for some potato salad, I overcooked them. They were mashed potatoes when I drained them and I didn't even have to mash them! Luckily I had some more potatoes that I cooked for my salad and I used the mashed potatoes for one of our favorite side dishes, twice baked mashed potatoes.

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 - 1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup shredded cheese
chopped onion, to taste
2 - 3 strips cooked and crumbled bacon
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook and mash potatoes. Add sour cream, milk, butter, and 1/2 the cheese and stir. Add the bacon, onion, salt, and pepper. Put in a small greased casserole dish and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about a half hour. I almost always top with chives, and I just use the freeze dried ones you get in the spice aisle. (But as you can see I did not have any the night I made this and took the picture.)

Happy cooking!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy Fried Chicken

At my house we eat a lot of beef and pork, in case you haven't noticed yet. But I love chicken! A few times every month I try to get in some chicken dishes. We even bought some whole chickens from an area farmer. They are delish!

Last night it I made fried chicken. It takes a little time to do but both my hubby and I love it! Here is the recipe that I use. This is another recipe that I usually don't measure but I measured it last night so that I could share it! This recipe is for one whole chicken.

Easy Fried Chicken
In a large resealable plastic bag, mix together the following:
2 cups flour
1 TBSP garlic powder
1TBSP onion powder
1/2 TBSP paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning

In a shallow bowl, mix 1 egg, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup flour. Add some pepper. I have also used beer or water in place of the water.

Coat the chicken with the egg mixture then put it in the bag and shake until it is coated with the seasoned flour mixture.

Fry in oil that has been preheated to 375 degrees.

Fry until juices run clear. You never want to eat chicken undercooked!

Happy cooking (and eating)!

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saving Savvy

Have you ever seen the television show "Extreme Couponing"? Those women are amazing. I still can't figure out how they walk out of a store with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of merchandise for almost free. What I really am still trying to process is how they walk out with a refund from the store. Craziness!

I have always used coupons. I cut them out once in a while but I have never been a hard core coupon user. I like to save money. Who doesn't? So the other night while watching an episode of "Extreme Couponing" I got my pile of coupons out to see what I could come up with. And here is how it went.

First I compared my list to the coupons that I had. I had coupons for almost everything on my list. a savings of a dollar here and a quarter there don't seem like a lot but add up. Most of my coupons were for diapers. We use a lot of diapers around here. I like Pampers the best but usually go with something cheaper. But yesterday I got Pampers. I was planning on going to Target. I checked their add online and discovered that they had Pampers on sale. If you bought three packages at 9.99 you got a free $5 gift card. So I planned my coupons and shopping around that.
When I got to the store I saw that they were smaller packages but were $8.99. So I got my three packages and used my coupons.

 3@ 8.99 = 26.97
subtract $5 for the target gift card = 21.97
my coupons added up to $9.50
which brings my total to $12.47

I paid about $4.16 per package for the diapers! That is less than half price! Not exactly extreme couponing standards but I was pretty proud of myself. My total savings for the entire shopping trip was $25.65. I may have to start using more coupons!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beef, It's what's for dinner!

My husband raises cattle and we are proud of it! I am always looking for new beef recipes to try. I like to shake it up once in a while and try new things. The Iowa Beef Industry Council has a great website with lots and lots of great recipes. There is even an interactive meat case that takes you to another site where you pick out your cut of meat and look at recommendations on how to cook it. Very cool!

There are tons of other resources available. You can read information about how cattle is raised and meet real cattle farmers in Iowa. There are resources for teachers to use with their students in classrooms. There is also a link to information on beef safety and nutrition. I encourage you to visit this website and see what beef is all about!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Country Fried Steaks

When we have our beef processed at the locker we almost always get minute steaks. Sometimes I cube them and use them in soups and chili. Most of the time I make country fried steak. I have my own recipe for country fried steaks but they never seem to turn out well so I searched for a new recipe to try. I found this recipe at the Taste of Home website and decided to try it out.

photo from www.tasteofhome.com

 So here is how it turned out. I coated my steaks. I always just used to use flour and this recipe calls to mix in some cornmeal. Great idea!

I fried them. I definitely think that the cornmeal made a huge difference! The flour coating I used just came right off in the pan. The cornmeal made them really crispy, too. And I always have to use my cast iron skillet. That's how I cook around here.

I did stray from the recipe a tad. I used the same pan for frying to make the gravy instead of using a sauce pan. Less dishes! Plus you get all the good crispy pieces from frying.

And I had a great supper. We almost always eat rice with this dish instead of mashed potatoes. It really is delicious with the gravy.

Would I make this again?

I think so!