Thursday, September 26, 2013

. . . Creamed Chicken Sandwiches . . .

Don't let the not so pretty pictures of this post deter you from making these awesome sandwiches!  

Growing up in Ohio we used to have these Creamed Chicken sandwiches for dinner periodically and everyone would inhale them.  Then when I took my first "real" job working at a Twistee Treat we served the Creamed Chicken sandwiches there but I quickly learned that many people had never heard of these.  Well, as an adult living in North Carolina if I mention these to anyone they look at me like I'm nuts so I decided I would Google the recipe and I actually found out that this sandwich is mainly known in Central and Northern Ohio.  Who knew!?  

There are lots of different recipes you will find for this sandwich but this one I'm sharing is how my mom always made them and it's now how I make them for us.  

Creamed Chicken Sandwiches
Shredded chicken (I used 3 cans of white chicken for this recipe)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
 **You can make this recipe using fresh shredded chicken and just adjust your amount of soup depending on how much chicken you are using.  The mixture is supposed to be a little runny but not too runny so you can judge it by that as you add the soup.  I always know that to make it with 3 cans of chicken I need 1 full can of each of the two soups.

Shred your chicken and add desired amount of soup and seasonings to taste.  Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally and serve on buns when heated through.

 Shred your chicken--either the fresh chicken or canned works perfectly

 Add your cans of soup to desired consistency.  As mentioned above I find that 3 cans of chicken requires 1 full can of each of the two soups but you can just adjust the amount of soup depending on how much chicken you are using.  Just don't make your mixture too runny or it won't stay on your bun.

 Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste.  I usually taste it as it heats because I find that most of the time as it gets hotter I want to have more seasonings.

 Heat over medium heat, stir occasionally so the chicken doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
 Serve your chicken mixture on buns and enjoy ♥

 I personally love mustard on my Creamed Chicken Sandwich but these taste great all by themselves too.

I hope you and your family enjoy these yummy Creamed Chicken Sandwiches as much as we do!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

. . . Homemade Caramel Shortbread Candy Bars . . .

Who has heard of Twix candy bars?  Um, of course everyone has.  Well, these are a fantastic homemade version!!!  Oh my goodness run, don't walk, to your kitchen to make these bad boys!

I came across this recipe when I was cleaning out old magazines.  It was in a Kraft Foods magazine which always has the best recipes.  I don't know why I never made this but sure am glad I made it yesterday!  I have had to hide these from my son and husband and really wish I could hide them from myself but I keep remembering where I put them.

These can't be easier and I promise if you have a microwave you can make them and you will be sure to impress your family and friends.

 Homemade Caramel Shortbread Candy Bars

35 square shortbread cookies (Lorna Doone Cookies)
1pkg.  (11 oz.) KRAFT Caramel Bits--these are found in the same spot as chocolate chips
1Tbsp.  milk
6 to 8 ounces milk chocolate chips
Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; spray with cooking spray. Arrange cookies in single layer on bottom of prepared pan. 
Microwave caramel bits and milk in microwaveable bowl on high for 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until bits are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after each minute. Pour over cookies; spread to completely cover cookies. 
Microwave chocolates in microwaveable bowl for 2 min. or until almost melted, stirring every 30 sec. Stir until chocolates are completely melted, making sure you don't get the chocolate too hot. Pour over caramel layer; spread to completely cover caramel layer. 
Put bars in the fridge for about 2 hours then remove foil and bars from pan.  Remove the foil from the bars then lay the bars on a cutting board and cut into bars.  Serve as soon as possible!

 Using the foil to line the pan is a MUST!  It makes removing and cutting these so easy.

 I cut mine into small bars because they are rich and I didn't want them to be too large.

This recipe that is going to make everyone impressed with your cooking skills!

 One word...YUM!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

. . . Easy Homemade Caramels . . .

When I had one of my bridal showers someone gave me a candy thermometer.   That was now 12 years ago and I finally busted that bad boy out to make these caramels.  Can you guess that this was my first attempt at making any type of candy since that handy dandy thermometer has been in my drawer for 12 whole years?  

I have to admit that I have always been afraid to make homemade candy.  When we were kids my mom would make homeade hardtack and we just loved it but I have never attempted anything like that on my own.  
 When I came across this recipe over on my new favorite blog, Butter, with a side of Bread I knew I had to give it a go.  It just sounded too easy to be true so my little behind ran right to the store to grab the ingredients I needed which was just the whipping cream but still it meant a trip to the store.  I came home and got to work.  After about fifteen minutes I knew my thermometer must be broken, afterall it is 12 years old so I'm sure they must break when you don't use them right?  Well out came the ipad so I could google how long it would take to get caramel to the firm ball stage.  Yep, it was going to take awhile.  I have now made this recipe twice and have figured out that either my stovetop isn't very hot or all those other people are lying when they tell you it only takes 15 minutes to get to 248 degrees.  For me it took at least thirty minutes or more to get it to that temp both times.  After twice I'd say I'm an expert candy maker wouldn't you?  No you say, well you are right I have a lot to learn but I do think this recipe is a great beginner recipe if you want to start venturing into the world of candy making.  

I gave these homemade caramels out for teacher gifts for the first day of Fall and Marcus came home saying that one teacher said she had died and gone to Heaven and another said she was coming unglued they were so good.  Rave reviews if I do say so myself.  I shouldn't tell you that my husband said they were just alright but he isn't a candy lover so you should just ignore him like I did.  Listen to the candy making expert that I am when I tell you these were insanely good!
 Homemade Caramels
2 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup evaporated milk
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1 cup butter
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium size pot, combine everything except the vanilla. Monitor the heat of the mixture with a candy thermometer while stirring occasionally. When the thermometer reaches 245 to 250 degrees  remove pot from heat.
Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a foil lined greased 12x15 pan and let the mixture cool completely. You can put it in the fridge to speed the process. When cooled cut the caramel into small squares and wrap them in wax paper for storage.You can also roll the caramels into a "log shape" because they are very pliable then wrap them in wax paper.  I have set mine out in a bowl but if you want to save them for awhile just keep them in the fridge.

 Gather up your ingredients and get ready to become a Master Candy Maker.

 When you put your candy thermometer in the pot make sure it's close to the bottom of your pan but not touching it.  It will take a little while so just be patient and don't stir the mixture constantly but instead just stir now and then while you wait for the temp to rise.

 About this stage I was getting really impatient but my thermometer was still saying it was at 225 degrees.  I realized after the first batch that you can also tell by the color of your mixture when they are done.  This color above is more like a caramel sauce so you want to wait until it gets almost a chocolatey brown color.  I will admit that both batches made me very angry because right about the time the temp hit 245 the caramel burnt on the bottom of the pan so when I poured it into the greased cookie sheet the little burnt flecks ended up in my caramel.  Oddly enough there was no burnt taste to the dark bits but it just didn't look pretty.  That was actually why I made them again because I wanted them perfect but it happened the same way.  I think maybe using a nonstick pot might help but I'm not sure.  I kept my heat at medium the entire time so it would not burn but both times it did.

Once the caramel mixture has reached the desired heat add your Vanilla and mix well.  Then pour your caramel mixture into the prepared pan and let them cool completely.  I put mine in the fridge to get them really cool and solid because I read online that they are easier to work with when they are cold.  I would say that was true because they were less sticky when really cold.

 I don't know what I would have done without this flat cutting tool (I call it a pasta cutter but don't know what it really is called) and my marble pasty board.  Ok, well yes I do know what I would have done...I would have used a knife and a cutting board. The tool and the marble did make this project a cinch but it would have been just as easy with a knife so don't fret if you don't have one of the cutters just use a knife and a cutting board.  You can see a few of the dark flecks that ended up in my caramels in the above photo but I promise this doesn't change the taste at all.
 Cut your wax paper into rectangles and wrap the caramels up and twist the ends.  Be prepared that this step takes awhile. 

 I was one happy camper when I wrapped my last caramel let me tell you!  They look great though and taste even better.

 As I mentioned I gave these out for teacher and staff gifts so I printed a cute tag and used some of the dollar bin containers from Target.

 I put each container down in a clear cellophane bag and tied the tag with a few pieces of Baker's Twine and the gifts were ready to go to school.

 If you are like me you don't want to keep too many of these babies at home because they are dangerous let me tell ya!  Yummy!!

I hope you enjoy them and take a chance and make them.  If you don't have a candy thermometer just google how to make candy without a thermometer and you will get lots of info about how to drop the mixture into cold water.  It works because I used both methods just to see and was very pleased with it.  Good luck!

Friday, September 20, 2013

. . . First Day of Fall Sale . . .

The perfect time to purchase your holiday gifts and fall cards!

Monday, September 16, 2013

. . . Tagg Pet Tracker Genius . . .

 This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Tagg™ Pet Tracker, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #pettracker

Anyone that knows me well knows that my dog is my baby.  The running joke in our house is that I love Maggie more than my son.  That is only true on occasion but I do love my dog.  

When I had the opportunity to try this new product by Tagg Pet Tracker I jumped at the chance.  I am terrified of losing my Maggie Girl and this is a way to keep track of her as well as all the other great benefits of the device.  

Maggie is a rescue dog so before she came to us she was allowed to run free on her owners property but with us she can't do that.  We have had her get away from us a couple times and thank goodness we were eventually able to get her back but the time she was gone was just torture for us because of not knowing where she went.  The worst is when she has gotten loose and doesn't respond in any way to us calling her and she moves so fast we can't catch up to her so we just have to keep guessing where she might go.  No MORE of that guessing game now that we have Tagg Pet Tracker.  You have no idea how much peace of mind this little device has given us.

This little baby was so simple to activate and to use.  It was just minutes and we were up and running.  Nothing short of awesome in our opinion.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

. . . kitchen artwork . . .

My parents bought a new house and have been very busy decorating.  They had a wall in the kitchen that my mom couldn't decide what to add to fill the space.  While we were shopping for something I had the idea to just create a few kitchen prints and put them in very simple black frames.  This was a super easy project and yet is one of the things she hears the most compliments on.  Yay!

If you aren't comfortable creating your own artwork you can either purchase these by emailing me or go to Etsy and you will find a ton of great downloadable files.  You will just send the files off to the photo center of your choice and then buy some basic frames and some scrapbook paper to mount them on and stick them in the frames.  Can't get easier than that right?

 • • • 
Once I created my artwork I sent them to Costco Photo for them to develop them.  I did have to call them to speak with them about the size because I chose to do squares.  Once the photos were developed I mounted them with adhesive to a bronze piece of scrapbook paper and then cut that to the size I wanted it--mine were 10x10.  I then mounted that to a 12x12 piece of black cardstock and put them in the frames.  So simple!
 Easy as can be but looks great and a super inexpensive way to fill up blank wall space!

Kitchen Art Complete!