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Chicken Tips, Part 1.

Chicken Tips FI

Chicken, we eat it at least twice a week, often 3 times, sometimes even 4. So I have had my fair share with chicken and everything that entails it. I’m sure, if you are a meat eater, you consume chicken often. Maybe even more than we do. It’s cheap (compared to most meats anyways) and it’s incredibly versatile- you see it in everything from soups to rice dishes to crammed in between tortillas. You can really sculpt chicken into something amazing. Since chicken is so popular, I thought I would share a few tricks I have learned about it on my chicken ventures.

  1. Shredding Chicken: On my instagram last week, I shared a clever shredding tip that comes in handy with chicken but there are so many recipes involving shredded chicken- soups, casseroles, quesadillas, shredded chicken is everywhere. Now, when I first began cooking, I would sit down and take two forks and spend 10 minutes or more shredding the meat and coming up with uneven shreds. It took too long for something I wasn’t even that pleased with. Then I remembered hearing some where forever ago that taking a hand mixer to meat shreds it much easier. So I gave it a try and haven’t went back.IMG_1547
  2. Taking the stink out of boiled chicken: I don’t know about you, but nothing (well maybe some things but this is a biggie) churns my stomach more than the smell of boiled chicken. I don’t know what about it makes me want to run and hide 10 miles away from my house but it does. It is one of the worst smelling things I ever do did in my kitchen. For shredding, like we talked about above, the easiest method is to boil the chicken and then shred. Since my household loves Mexican food (tons of shredded chicken) I was having to do this often but found myself shying away from things that required boiling chicken. When I was tired of just avoiding some really yummy foods, I went to the drawing board. In order to avoid that icky smell, add some chicken broth cubes to your water. This zaps the smell away and actually adds flavor. I now always keep the cubes on hand. If you are making something that you can add even more flavor into the water, go for it! Just make sure it won’t throw off your recipe too much. Last night I made chicken fried rice and added in teriyaki sauce and some garlic, mmm.
  3. Quicker boiling chicken: When my husband went to second shift, so did I. I began making meals before he went to work because I loved our family dinners. This ended up cutting into our time more than I had liked so I went searching for ways to cut down on cook time. I began prepping everything I could the night before. When it came to boiling chicken, I realized I could even do this over night. All you have to do is pop in your chicken in the slow cooker, cover with water, throw in some broth cubes, and your chicken is ready to shred when you wake up. Cooking times differ with each crock pot so adjust to your crock pot. Mine can cook on low for about 4 hours and be there, it then switches to warm.
  4. Getting more bang for your buck chicken: Last year, my husband and I began buying organic chicken. Organic Chicken is a little pricey and was making our already way too high grocery budget even higher. It’s more expensive ($9-$11 for 3 breasts) but we didn’t want to go back to the other breasts, we didn’t want to cut back on chicken meals, so we were up in the air. And then my husband came up with this idea after examining them one day that they should be cut in half width wise and it would double our chicken.He was more interested in a better portion size (a honking 8 ounce chicken breast can sometimes be too much) and I had been pounding and tenderizing the chicken as it was to make it not so thick in the middle (it can easily become dry and flavorless when it’s too thick and have you seen how thick the chicken breasts are lately), so this wasn’t causing us to cut back on chicken. So now we get 6 breasts for $11 instead of 3. Which is two meals! This has helped our grocery budget and the flavor of our meals because the chicken ends up being the perfect thickness. I highly suggest doing this!
  5. A better breading: Something I never did when I first began cooking was dip it in flour first and then the egg mixture and then the flour again. I also didn’t think to season the flour. Double coating your chicken helps the breading so much and making sure to season your flour (with salt and pepper for basic recipes or you can get fancy and season with garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, the works) will never disappoint when it comes to a flavorful breading.

I labeled this part one because I know I will be back with even more chicken tips one day as much as I cook with it. I wanted to start off with some 5 basic tips at first.

And as always, when cooking poultry, remember to heat it to at least 165 degrees and wash everything it came into contact with. These aren’t so much tips as they are important steps for every chicken adventure.

What rookie mistakes did you make when you first started cooking? I would love to hear about them! :)

MTC FI

Mushroom Thyme Chicken

MTC bannerGrowing up, I grew up on a variety of foods. I don’t mean a little Italian here, a little Mexican there. I mean my dad hunted and often times, we enjoyed what he brought home. My favorite dish he ever made from venison (deer) was a variation of hand breaded, fried venison smothered in delicious cream of mushroom soup. It seems so basic, so simple, but my goodness it was full of flavor and just….amazingness. Now, my husband doesn’t hunt and I obviously don’t- the thought of killing something (even bugs sometimes) makes me sad. So I rarely enjoy venison, but one day last week I found myself craving my dad’s special dish so I went to the drawing board and came up with something similar that did more than just the trick, it set my taste buds over the moon. And it was a lot healthier than fried venison since it uses chicken and it is smothered in a delicious, creamy, peppery, mushroom gravy of sorts and it’s to die for so I knew I had to share it with you guys. The pictures are making me want it again so I think I may need to put it on next week’s meal plan. Take a look for yourself so you can get the stuff to make it for yourself. It’s so simple but so amazing. Don’t deprive your taste buds from this one.

What you need:

  • Fresh Chicken Tenders 1 pound
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup + Equivalent Milk
  • 2 tablespoons of Ground Thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Black Pepper and Kosher Salt (to taste)
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms (or your favorite), cut up into pieces. 

Throwing it all together:

  1. Mix together your oil and thyme and then brush the chicken with it.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over your chicken tenders.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan. Just enough to lightly coat the pan. Your chicken already has oil so really we just want to prevent a little extra stickage. I used a cast iron so if you have a non-stick skillet, it may not be needed. Use your best judgment depending on how your skillet does.
  4. On medium high heat, cook your chicken tenders. When they are about 3/4 of the way finished throw in your mushrooms and let them cook until the chicken is fully done. About 3-4 minutes total on each side.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together your milk and soup mixture and then throw it in the pan when the chicken is done.
  6. Add in some more fresh pepper and then let it bubble up for about 10 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!

See how easy it is? And I swear it tastes so mind blowingly amazing for what little it has in it. With the added mushrooms and fresh pepper it really takes it beyond just a simple cream of mushroom soup and thyme really livens up the chicken. Mmm, I need some STAT!

MTC in a pan

MTC Close Up

Look closer! :9

IC Banner (2)

Easy to go Iced Coffee

IC FI (2)

Coffee, something I have lived and breathed…and drank for many, many years now. I started working in coffee shops at 16 and had longed to way before then. Coffee is something I have always enjoyed and I take pleasure in crafting it into the perfect beverage. I worked in the coffee industry off and on from 16-22, and loved every minute of it. Well, not every minute. 5am wake up times were tough, but worth the job. Sadly, VERY sadly, I began tapering off of caffeine back in October when I was beginning to have crazy anxiety and had no idea where it came from (it ended up being the birth control I was on. But you can read more about that journey,here) but I stuck with limiting myself to caffeine usage as someone who deals with anxiety. It was tough, I miss coffee anytime I brew some up for my husband, but first and foremost comes health, right?

Even though I have tapered myself off, I do still enjoy it from time to time as a treat. When my husband had mentioned he wanted mason jars to start drinking out of and storing different drinks in for work and the like, and after I finally found some that were the right size and not purple, it hit me. Iced Coffee in a mason jar. Now, i’ve seen it before, ice coffee and other drinks. I swear I have drank SO much sweet tea from mason jars. But it hit me that I could take a some what lengthy, wait filled process, that is making a wonderful glass of ice coffee and turn it into a quick and efficient process with these mason jars. And I have to say, I am thrilled by the outcome. It takes the time out of brewing and waiting for it to cool off so all of your ice doesn’t water it down, right out of it, it’s customizable so say you want mocha one day and vanilla the next, you don’t have to go through that process- twice. When you want coffee, you want it right then and there. Who wants to wait a few hours before they can enjoy a nice mug mason jar- full of iced coffee? So allow me to show you this quick and easy process so you can sip on ice coffee all week long and only have to prep it once.

First up, brew the coffee (we use the french press but you can brew it anyway you prefer).

Start with filtered water all the way to the top of your press.

Start with filtered water all the way to the top of your press. Pour the water into a pot and bring it to a rolling boil.

Add in the amount of coffee that you normally like. For some you like it extra strong, some- not so much. Use your normal measurements. For mine I used 2 tablespoons (we have a small french press). Then top it off with a little kosher salt to take the bite off.

As it boils, add in the amount of coffee that you normally like. For some you like it extra strong, some- not so much. Use your normal measurements. For mine I used 2 tablespoons (we have a small french press). Then top it off with a little kosher salt to take the bite off.

Pour in your water and let it brew for 4 minutes (if you like it stronger, feel free to let it sit 1-2 minutes longer).  Then plunge down SLOWLY. And I mean slowly. You don't want the grounds to pop up at the top of the press. I love coffee but a mouth full of grounds is just yucky.

Pour in your water and let it brew for 4 minutes (if you like it stronger, feel free to let it sit 1-2 minutes longer). Then plunge down SLOWLY. And I mean slowly. You don’t want the grounds to pop up at the top of the press. I love coffee but a mouth full of grounds is just yucky.

Before adding in the coffee, put whatever you normally doctor your coffee up with at the bottom (sans milk/cream/etc). Add in some chocolate, caramel, vanilla, or other flavors for some extra fun. Then fill your mason jar with coffee up to 3/4 cup line. My mason jars will hold about 2 cups to the top.

Before adding in the coffee, put whatever you normally doctor your coffee up with at the bottom (sans milk/cream/etc). Add in some chocolate, caramel, vanilla, or other flavors for some extra fun. Then fill your mason jar with coffee up to 3/4 cup line. My mason jars will hold about 2 cups to the top.

Now, the cream. Fill your mason jar up with milk or creamer up to the next line (the 1 cup line). If you aren't crazy about creamer, then you can just add more coffee.

Now, the cream. Fill your mason jar up with milk or creamer up to the next line (the 1 cup line). If you aren’t crazy about creamer, then you can just add more coffee. Then make sure the lid is on tight, and SHAKE. Get it nice and mixed up. Repeat all steps for however many jars of coffee you want. I would suggest making coffee for 3 days at a time that way it remains fresh.

Now that it's mixed up, it's ready for the fridge. Before putting it up though, if you created different flavors in each jar, take some masking tape and label them so you know which you are reaching in for. In this case, "M" is for Mocha.

If you created different flavors in each jar, take some masking tape and label them so you know which you are reaching in for. In this case, “M” is for Mocha or mmmm, so good! 

Now, all that's left to do is refrigerate until your ready to enjoy. I recommend letting these sit for about an hour in the fridge before enjoying when they are freshly made.

Now, all that’s left to do is refrigerate until your ready to enjoy. I recommend letting these sit for about an hour in the fridge before enjoying when they are freshly made so they can get nice and cold. I hate it when ice cubs dilute my coffee.

When you are ready to drink, add in some ice and shake it up once more to get everything mixed back in. Then, the fun part, enjoy! :)

Here is the easy step by step version for reference:

  1. Brew your coffee. We use a french press but you can use whatever method you prefer. If you follow my directions and use the french press: Fill your press up with filtered water and then boil in a pot, add in your coffee to the bottom (adjusted to your taste), top it off with a small pinch of kosher salt, let the boiling water sit on top of your coffee with the press lid loosely sitting on top for 4 minutes (5-6 if you like extra strong coffee), and then plunge SLOWLY.
  2. In the bottom of your mason jar, add in whatever you usually put in your coffee MINUS the creamer/milk. Such as sweetener, flavored syrups, etc.
  3. Pour your coffee up to the 3/4 cup line (my mason jar will hold about 2 cups of liquid up to the top, adjust to the size you have).
  4. Then pour your milk/creamer up to the next line (1 cup line). If you like your coffee black, then just add more coffee up to this line.
  5. Put on your lid and make sure it is on nice and tight and give it a nice shake to get everything mixed up.
  6. Take a piece of masking tape and label the tops of your jars if you added in different flavors to each jar so you can keep track.
  7. Refrigerate.
  8. Repeat until you have enough jars to last you about 3 days. I like to do them 3 days at a time so they can remain nice and fresh.
  9. When you are ready to drink, add in some ice and give it a nice shake.
  10. ENJOY! :)

Do you drink iced coffee all year round or is it just a summer time treat for you? :) Looking forward to hearing from you as always!

Title De-Modge Podge

De-Modge Podging Glass, the easy way.

Title De-Modge Podge

Last year for my wedding, everything was black and gold. In a time where most weddings are rustic-y/vintage-y (and they are all gorgeous, seriously), you have me who likes things a little fancy. Black and gold screams fancy. Well, I think so. Anyways, off to Pinterest I went. Like I said, everything wedding is vintage-y now so there are mason jar things everywhere. I stumbled across these really pretty, glitter lined mason jars and a little light bulb went off in the head. Ding! Replace the mason jars with wine glasses and you have yourself an awesome centerpiece feature.

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The day before the wedding, get it all set up.

Now, I changed a few things up as I only lined the glitter half way up instead of the entire glass because I put water in them and plopped in some floating candles. They gave off a pretty lightening at my lights-off reception! I can’t share a picture here just because all of my photos have guests in them. I have to respect their privacy :)

All I did was tape off the area I didn’t want glittered, painted some modge podge up to the line, and then sprinkled some glitter on. When it dried, I coated the glitter with another layer of modge podge with a little water mixed in.

Now, a year later I drug out all of my old wedding stuff to begin selling the stuff I won’t be using anymore since we will (hopefully) be moving soon. I kept a little of everything for memory but I had bulk in almost everything. For example, 34 wine glasses. I didn’t need them, they were taking up space in a giant tote that we could use for moving and storage and stuff. So I got them out and then it hit me, oh yeah- they are covered in gold glitter. Who is going to just so happen to need 34 wine glasses covered in gold glitter? Probably not many. So I knew I had to find a way to get the modge podge off. I read a few different ways online that involved buying some kind of fancy product. I then found one that suggested soaking for recently glittered glass. Mine had been glittered for about a year but I wanted to try it anyways except I took it one extra step extra to ensure good glitter removal and it was SO easy. I was surprised. I was expecting to spend hours prying the glitter off, if it was even going to be possible. I was so excited about how easy it was, I knew I needed to share it with others in case any one else had a glitter-y wedding or just loves to craft.

Soaked glasses

Nice and soaked in Palmolive and hot water. Ready to peel!

It just peels right off!

It just peels right off!

Sometimes in one piece.

Sometimes in one piece.

You would never know they were glittered.

You would never know they were glittered.

To de-modge podge:

  1. Fill your container (or sink or tub) with super hot water. As hot as you can get it.
  2. Take some Palmolive (I used about 5 tablespoons for about 20 gallons of water or more. So eye ball it according to whatever you are soaking your glass in).
  3. Soak for 1 hour.
  4. Peel the glitter (I suggest sitting on a towel or some kind of surface to catch the peels), or whatever you have modge podged on your glass, right off! Just with your hands, nothing fancy.
  5. Wash clean in your dishwasher or sink with warm water, so to get any last smears (there won’t be many), and to just to make it clean.

Have you had any fun modge podge adventures that you’ve needed to reverse? Hopefully my post can help in some way :) or maybe you have some other methods you would like to share. Post in the comments below!

French's Fried Onion Chicken

French’s “Fried” Onion Chicken

French's Fried Onion Chicken

Lately, I have been on a salad kick. I had went forever without eating a salad and then I found a yummy mixture for one containing French’s Fried Onions and knew I just had to give it a go, especially because we have been wanting to incorporate more veggies into our diet. The salad was quite the hit. It was so good I found myself eating a mini version everyday for dinner (we eat big dinners for lunch, and then lunch sized things for dinner since my husband is on 2nd shift). I mean everyday. But last week I had one and found that it had lost its oomph. Which is eventual with any food you eat over and over again but I still had a giant thing of French Fried Onions that I find can go stale quicker than most pantry items. So in an effort not to waste, I went to the drawing board and ended up creating the most wonderful piece of chicken I have cooked to date. Not even kidding. I didn’t even need sauce. You heard me, no need for sauce. It was THAT flavorful. My picture for this post totally suffered because I dug in immediately and then thought of the blog and how I just HAD to share it. So I took it after I had a bite but, ohhhhh well.

So I am here today to share this totally awesome recipe with you. It’s simple and it is bursting with flavor! It has a similar texture of fried chicken BUT it’s baked so it isn’t going to attack you with guilt. Not that you should ever feel guilty, because food is awesome, but, you know what I mean.

What you need:

  • 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 3-4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (or whatever you prefer), pounded just enough to get it tender and not so chicken breasty.
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 cup of French’s French Fried Onions
  • 1 whisked egg
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for brushing.

Whipping it together:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Set out 3 shallow baking dishes and get ready to make an assembly line of goodness. Then place a greased baking sheet at the end ready to catch your chicken.
  3. In your first dish, mix up your flour and 1/4 of the packet of ranch.
  4. In your second, your egg.
  5. In your third, mix up your breadcrumbs, french fried onions, and the rest of the ranch packet. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Start assembling by dipping your chicken into your flour, then into your egg, and then into your breadcrumb mixture. Being sure to press down to make the breadcrumbs stick. Make sure everything is evenly coated.
  7. When you have all of your chicken breasts on the pan, brush or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil all over the tops to insure a little extra crisp.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until done in the middle.

Enjoy! Guys, I promise you. You will want to indulge in this and make some for your hubby….or just yourself ;) I won’t tell.