A Year of Simple Breakfasts

In case the title made you think I have 365 Simple Breakfast ideas to share with you, I have to apologize and let you know that while I do have many simple breakfast recipes, I do not have one for every day of the year. (After all, we do eat eggs pretty regularly at our house.) Rather, this post will share how I’m planning to keep our breakfasts as simple as possible this year! I bet the ideas shared here WILL get you through an entire year, with plenty of variety, and all kinds of simplicity!

Take, for example, the breakfast shown in this picture.

a-year-of-simple-breakfasts

One morning last week, I made and served Giant Breakfast Cookies, Bacon, and Strawberry Parfaits. Sounds involved right? Not at all simple! Complicated and time consuming, even!

But it wasn’t! It was so simple! Here’s how I did it:

  1. I had pre-made Breakfast Cookie dough balls in the freezer. (Read the details on how to do that here.) I simply pulled some out, put them on a baking sheet, and slid them into the oven to bake while I continued my morning Bible reading time.
  2. I had pre-made Bacon. (Read the details on how to do that here.) Just after I woke the boys, I threw some bacon in a skillet to reheat and crisp up. It took 30 seconds, no joke.
  3. I had already made the Cream Cheese Parfait filling for another meal a few days before. I pulled out what was left, washed and sliced some berries, and put them on the table.

The boys LOVED this breakfast (who wouldn’t?) and I loved having such a great meal to serve. What I loved more than anything is how simple it was to put on the table.

But what about taking all that time to prepare simple breakfasts ahead of time?

Sounds like the before-hand prep can negate the “simple” in all of this, huh? Sure, it’s easy to put it on the table if you’ve done all the work ahead of time – but who has time to do all that work ahead of time?

I get it. I don’t always have the time to get ahead either. But I’ve found that if take an hour or two in the kitchen sometime during the week – whenever I can find the spare hour or two – I can knock out quite a bit of cooking which saves me all kinds of time and energy later.

And…while I could fall back on boxed breakfast food if I really wanted to keep it simple, I don’t like doing that unless I’m desperate or especially over-scheduled. We love homemade food. We love a hot breakfast. There really are great ways to keep it simple!

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven, Freeze, and Warm Up Fast

oven-bacon-2

When to find a spare hour or two for cooking ahead?

It varies, and will be different for all of us depending on our work and family situation. Here are some time slots that sometimes (but not always) work for me:

  • In the morning after breakfast after I’ve gotten my kids going on their school work. This only works on mornings I don’t have any pressing blog work needs or deadlines. And it only works if my youngest is sitting at the kitchen table doing his work so I can bounce back and forth between cooking and helping to keep him on task.
  • In the late afternoon or early evening while I’m cooking dinner. After all, I’m in the kitchen then anyway. If the dinner meal is simple enough (and at this point, all my meals are kept simple) – I can sometimes stir up something for the freezer or put something into the oven to help me get ahead for another day.
  • Anytime I’m cooking something for today, I consider if I can double or triple up so I can have extra for another time. I do this with almost everything.

These “cooking ahead” methods work for any meal, but here are some specific breakfast ideas for getting ahead that help keep our morning meal times super simple!

1. Cook several pounds of Bacon Bits ahead of time.

I freeze these to pull out as needed. For a simple breakfast, pull out a scoop to quickly make Scrambled Bacon Cheesy Eggs.

How to Make Bacon Bits and Why You Should Make Them

2. Make 5-Minute Stove-Top Granola. 

Store it in a jar. Save it for a morning you have no time to cook. Serve it with a variety of your family’s favorite stir-in options.

5-Minute Stove-Top Granola

3. Make Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.

Use the 5-minute stove-top method if you like! This is our favorite granola and making it at home saves quite a bit of money compared to buying it at the store.

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola - A Great Make-Ahead Meal

4. Make Homemade Grape Nut Cereal.

This is super tasty and super easy! I typically double this recipe and keep it in big jars so we can have it on busy “no time to cook” mornings.

Homemade Grape Nuts

5. Make Homemade Cracklin’ Oat Bran.

This is our favorite of the homemade cereal options! It’s also super easy to make and stores great in jars in the pantry.

Make Your Own Cracklin' Oat Bran

Wait! Do I ever buy cereal at the store and serve cereal out of a box?!?

Of course. Remember this post? Just because I can, doesn’t mean I always do. Store bought cereal saves my neck some days. No guilt. ;) Now back to the Simple Homemade Breakfast ideas…

6. Make Breakfast Cookie Balls for the freezer.

As mentioned above, these are awesome to have in the freezer. I usually double the recipe, and freeze the dough in balls so I can pull out just enough for one meal. These can be frozen after you bake them too, but we like eating them fresh out of the oven!

Here’s our White Chocolate Cranberry Breakfast Cookie recipe too. :)

Breakfast Cookies for the Freezer

7. Make Homemade Poptarts for the Freezer.

Like the Breakfast Cookies, we like eating these right out of the oven. Again, I usually double the recipe, then freeze them and pull out just enough for one meal. They bake easily from their frozen state. I can throw them in the oven while I’m reading my Bible in the morning. So simple!

homemade-poptarts-for-the-freezer

8. Make muffins ahead of time and freeze them before baking.

This idea is my favorite. I often mix up several different batches of our favorite muffins, freeze the batter, then quickly bake them as needed!

silicone muffins 1

9. Make Stir-and-Pour Bread.

If I have this bread on hand (usually I make it the day before instead of the morning of) – we can make Peanut Butter Honey Toast or Scrambled Egg Sandwiches.

stir and pour bread loaf 5

10. Have cheese shredded to make it easy to make Scrambled Cheesy Eggs.

We love melted cheese on our eggs. If I have some shredded already, this makes breakfast so much simpler!

TIP: We use our Food Processor to shred cheese. I LOVE THIS!!! We can shred a huge 5-pound block of cheese in about two minutes. It’s worth owning a food processor just for the cheese shredding capability! (We have one like this.)

grated cheese

11. Make any of these 49 Breakfast Freezer Food ideas.

Frozen breakfasts are awesome to have on hand for simple meals!

49 Breakfast Freezer Foods

12. Make big batches of Turkey Sausage

I almost always make 12 pounds at once (the entire case of ground turkey I get in my Azure Standard order!). I bag it up in 1-pound bags. Since it’s precooked and crumbled, I can throw it in scrambled eggs or make a quick batch of Sausage Gravy.

Homemade Turkey Sausage

 

I would love to hear your ideas for Simple Breakfasts at your house!

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Last Day for Simple Meals Discount!

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Last Minute Creamy Bacon Spaghetti

Well, hi! Did you have a nice Christmas?

I’m assuming you’d like to stay in “vacation mode” for just a few more days. Perhaps you’re planning to hit the stores and grab some 75% off sales. (Get me some wrapping paper and multi-colored tree lights while you’re there, will you?)

Today I’ve got a fun new Simple Meal to share with you. This one is a bit different from those I’ve shared recently. You’ll be happy to learn that it includes bacon. And cream cheese. It’s like I’m giving you a late Christmas present. Best of all, this meal can be thrown together at the last minute with no prior planning!

Here’s how this Creamy Bacon Spaghetti can be considered a “last minute meal” even if you didn’t thaw bacon in preparation: Bacon will thaw quickly when placed in a pan of hot water. In just a few minutes, you can cook it and stir it into your pasta.

Easy, peasy, bacon, cheesy.

bacon-spaghetti

Here’s another great bacon tip for you: Cut it into pieces with kitchen shears, like this…

bacon bits 1

While your bacon pieces are cooking, you can boil your spaghetti. When both are finished, you stir them together with cream cheese, Italian dressing, and parmesan. A couple minutes later, your meal is served.

Last Minute Creamy Bacon SpaghettiYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Last Minute Creamy Bacon Spaghetti
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces whole grain spaghetti
  • 1 pound uncooked bacon, but into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup Italian dressing*
  • 4 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. In the meantime, cook bacon in a skillet.
  3. Drain grease from bacon.
  4. Drain water from spaghetti.
  5. Immediately pour hot spaghetti into the skillet with cooked bacon.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until cream cheese is melted and dish is well combined.
  7. Serve right away.

*Here’s my Italian Dressing recipe if you like!

simple-last-minute-creamy-bacon-spaghetti

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

It’s recipes like this that makes Simple Meals such a life saver for families. We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

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Simple Pizza Chicken Bake

Once again, a Simple Recipe saves the day. Three cheers for Simple Pizza Chicken Bake! (Hip, hip…okay, let’s just get to the recipe.)

pizza-chicken-bake

Truth: I have been too busy to cook lately. Why? Well, for one thing, I’ve been quite occupied by writing about how to put simple meals on the table.

Do not miss the irony of this.

Oh my dears. We hosted people for Thanksgiving, then turned right around and traveled to Kansas. We arrived home a few days later happy and tired, and very behind on all of our work. We began to play catch up while getting ready for Christmas and finishing up our kids’ semester of school work. Our youngest has been in our big downtown Christmas play, so we’ve been running to practices and performances and hosting family who came into town to watch. We hosted Christmas parties for two groups of college students, and enjoyed a big basketball triangular in town with the team our two middle boys are involved with.

Did I mention we’re getting ready to drive to California to see family at Christmastime?

All this fun in the midst of trying to keep up with everyday life has threatened to push me into the next level of crazy-head. (No one wants to see what that looks like.) So when Matt got home from his current job site one day last week and asked how he could help with dinner, I looked up from my computer (where I was editing a post about keeping dinner simple) and said, “I’ve been too busy writing about how to put food on the table easily to actually get food on the table. I love you. I’m hungry. Malachi needs to leave for practice in 15 minutes.”

Fun times. I have no recollection of what we actually ate that night. But no one starved, and I think I’m back on track this week to at least have the brain power to throw something in the crock pot or oven at a reasonable time.

Keep this new Simple Recipe in your back pocket. It truly is a no-brainer, and maybe it’s just me, but I think we can all use no-brainer recipes this time of year and always.

Simple Pizza Chicken BakeYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Pizza Chicken Bake
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 14 ounces pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 ounces sliced pepperoni
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken into thin strips and spread them into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Spread pizza sauce over the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Top with pepperoni.
  5. Bake, uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

simple-pizza-chicken-bake

I’m happy to report that the work I was behind on is almost caught up, and the work I’m trying to get ahead on is coming along at a nice pace. I got to a good enough point a few days ago that I told Matt, “Hey, I think I’ll be able to go to California with you for Christmas after all.” Now here’s hoping he gets all his work done so he can go too.

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals, we invite you to come aboard! We’ll provide the plans. We’ll provide the recipes. We’ll provide the grocery list. All you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy how simple your life in the kitchen has become! Join Simple Meals!

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Simple Taco Rice Dinner (with a dairy free option)

You know the tried and true recipes you always fall back on? Those are the best, right? Those are the dishes you can make without even thinking. Those are the recipes you always have ingredients on hand for. Those are the recipes that keep us sane and our families fed.

Suddenly I’m finding that my list of such go-to recipes is growing! I love it that there are so many recipes that don’t require much thought or effort to put together. I love it that my family keeps raving about all of these.

And I love it that I’m not compromising one bit with these recipes when it comes to nutrition. I’m certainly not compromising on taste, and not even on the budget. These are happy, happy, happy simple recipes!

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

Today’s Simple Recipe is Taco Rice Dinner. This goes together very quickly, can be tweaked according to your preferences and food sensitivities. Plus it is absolutely yummy. (My kids don’t care much about the rest of it, as long as it tastes great!) We all love the flavor of this dish.

taco-rice-dinner

Simple Taco Rice DinnerYum

Simple Taco Rice Dinner
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 15-ounces (give or take) salsa
  • 15-ounces cooked black beans
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Boil two cups of water, add rice, turn down to very low heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes until rice is cooked.
  2. In the meantime, brown ground beef in a separate skillet until no longer pink.
  3. Add chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.
  4. Stir together cooked rice, cooked meat, salsa, and black beans.
  5. Serve as-is if you need to avoid dairy. Or sprinkle cheese on top and serve!

simple-taco-rice-dinner

Just like with all the other Simple Recipes, all you have to do is throw out salad fixin’s and some fruit to go with this dish.

TIP: If you didn’t plan ahead to thaw hamburger meat (story of my life!) just do this. It’ll quickly thaw you’re meat and you’ll be on your way!

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Join the fun! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

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Simple Meals Are Great, But What About Simple Snacks? [32 Recipes!]

Many are enjoying our new Simple Meals plans, but as we all know:

Man shall not live on dinner alone. Sometimes he needs a snack.

simplemeals300

Every once in a while, I hear a mom say, “Oh snacks? My kids don’t eat snacks. They just eat big meals.”

I have no idea what to do with that. No snacks? Just big meals? I definitely know that could work for some, but this is not the case for my family. We eat big meals and we still need snacks.

You know it’s not just my kids that need snacks. I’m the mom and I need snacks frequently. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with snacking, though I do believe snacks should be just as nourishing as a meal – not just empty calories to fill a hole.

My current favorite nourishing snack:

fat-bombs-easy-and-delicious

 

These are amazing for energy and brain function. I like brain function.

Today let’s talk about Simple Snacking options. I’ve made it my goal to provide incredibly simple recipe options for all Simple Meals plans. So in keeping with the theme of simple recipes, here is a list of my easiest snack recipes that will keep your family fed but will not keep you in the kitchen very long!

Simple Snacks RecipesYum

That list contains 32 real food, Simple Snack Recipes that you can feel good about feeding your family!

32-real-food-simple-snack-recipes

Don’t forget the obvious – good ol’ fruits and veggies!

februaryfruitsm

The more you get to know me, the more you’ll find that I think healthy eating is important. But I think family time is more important. As I said recently in an email:

I want to be with my husband and kids more than I’m with my pots and pans.

I love to cook. I love playing with recipes and making great food for people to eat. But I love my family more, and stress in the kitchen makes me fight being a grumpy wife/mom/friend.

That’s why I’m sharing all these Simple Snacks today. That’s most definitely why I created Simple Meals. I want to make life in the kitchen simple for everyone so family time can be a higher priority.

So, look through the snack list above, and spend a few minutes making one or two. And check this out!

more-snack-ideas-and-recipes

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You get $56 worth of free eBooks with your Simple Meals subscription, and those freebies include a bunch more snack ideas and recipes.

Go Join Simple Meals!!

Share with me. Can your family stay full between meals or do you often need to provide snacks to keep everyone going?

P.S. Sometimes I get out fresh spinach and eat it as a snack straight out of the container. My 16-year old loves to tease me about my weird spinach snacking habit. I don’t even have a come back. It is weird and I admit it.

Related Posts:

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs

Everybody come get yourselves some Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs.

sweet-and-sour-chicken

A meal like this is one of my favorite to prepare. It goes something like this:

  1. Plop some chicken in a dish.
  2. Mix up 5 ingredients to spread over chicken.
  3. Put the chicken in the oven and walk away.
  4. Just before dinnertime, throw frozen veggies in a pot to steam.
  5. Get out salad stuff.
  6. Ring the cow bell.

If you don’t have a cow bell, I guess you can still make this chicken.

Ringing the cow bell (to alert the men in the field that dinner was ready) was one of my favorite things to do at Grandma’s house. I’ve decided that I need one for my house. My men aren’t out in the field, but they are often wearing headphones. Perhaps they could hear a cow bell better than they hear my sweet (but wimpy) voice calling them for dinner?

Either way, check out how easy this new recipe is:

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken LegsYum

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds chicken legs (other pieces work fine too but may require more baking time)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Lay chicken legs in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat briefly to melt honey and to make sure ingredients are well combined.
  3. Spread mixture over chicken legs.
  4. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over in the sauce, cover, and cook for 15 minutes more.

Be sure the soy sauce is gluten free if this is a need for you!

simple-sweet-and-sour-baked-chicken-legs

You will love this simple main dish!

Don’t miss our other Simple Recipe ideas shared here so far:

It’s here! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

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Simple Taco Soup

taco soup 1

I can’t get a good picture of this soup. This is so easy to make and it’s amazing to eat and the picture looks like eh, whatever. So just glance over the picture and know that you need to make this soup.

Here’s my happy little soup secret: This Taco Soup is made with none other than this Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Recipe. See, you make that recipe and you double or triple it because it just makes sense because it is so delicious. You eat it with chips, or you boil some pasta and make it into Spicy Mac and Cheese. Or if you’re feeling soupy, you stir in some chicken or beef broth and top it with crunched chips. It becomes Taco Soup and you love it so much you can’t even stand it. Or maybe it’s just me.

Simple Taco Soup

Simple Taco Soup
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • 2-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 2-3 cups chicken or beef broth
Instructions
  1. Brown the hamburger meat in a large pot.
  2. Add butter to the meat, melting it throughout the pot.
  3. Sprinkle in corn starch, coating the meat.
  4. Pour in water, chili powder, and salt.
  5. Turn heat up and stir until the mixture thickens.
  6. Add cream, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens. (This all happens quickly in my experience.)
  7. Stir in Rotel and broth, heating for about 5 more minutes.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add shredded cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted and the dip is smooth.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips.

I know I’ve said it before, but I really, really love making triple batches of Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel. It’s super easy and it is so versatile! Every few weeks I make it and store it in my fridge to pull out for easy meals. Now we use it to make soup too!

Here are some pictures of your options to entice you:

Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel, served as a dip:

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

The very same dip, stirred into boiled pasta and served as Spicy Mac and Cheese: 

Spicy Mac and Cheese

Same dip again, with broth stirred in, served as Taco Soup:

Simple Taco Soup

Do you see why I make big batches of this?? 

If you’d like to take a look at my favorite way to make nourishing broth for soups like this, check out this post:

How I Make Veggie-Packed Chicken Broth and Beef Broth

Have you made the Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel recipe? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

orange sugar cookies

In case by now you’re wondering if I’m obsessed with creating these Low Sugar Melt-Away Cookie varieties, the answer is obvious that of course I am obsessed. After two attempts at creating this here orange flavored variety, I have definitely decided that of all the flavors – orange is my new favorite.

Why two attempts, you ask? Oh well. I just burned the first batch, that’s all. Guys, it is so weird what happens to cookies when you put them in the oven, walk away, and then forget that there is actual life going on outside your office door. So weird. Someone should have warned me about this. We can’t even leave cookies unattended in a 350° oven for 27 minutes. Did you know that???

Set a timer much, Laura?

You know what? Just…I know, okay? I should have set a timer. I used to have one of those clicky, clicky, clicky timers but it got dropped four too many times so its spinner stopped spinning. Then Matt got me a digital timer that was persnickety and sometimes decided to shut itself off because it was selfish and couldn’t care less about the company coming over to eat in exactly 52 minutes. After a few months of this behavior, I declared it to be faulty and went to the store to purchase another one just like it. It, however, had the same exact issues as its brother and that is what tipped me off that maybe that brand couldn’t be trusted.

After that, I decided I could just use the timer app on my phone. This is a great idea except that it takes so many difficult and tedious steps to get to the point of actually setting the timer (find phone, turn phone on, unlock screen, find timer app, open timer app, think about how much time has elapsed since I started this whole process so I can figure out how long to set the timer at this point, so on and so forth). Also, I really hate to touch my phone when I have egg white on my fingers.

I think you can all see now how challenging it has been to accurately time my baked goods. I have mostly resorted to trusting my nose to be my timer. Typically, cookies and casseroles smell “just right” when they are ready to come out of the oven. What more do I need?

Oh yeah, just someone to remind me that I am actually baking cookies in the first place.

So the first batch burned. They were edible, just really, really crispy and not at all picture worthy. Over the weekend, I tried again. Oh my goodness, I will (go to the trouble to) set a timer from now on. It is worth it to pull the perfect cookies out of the oven when they are perfectly perfect in every way.

Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ½ cup sucanat or raw sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • The juice of one medium-sized orange
  • grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (give or take)
Instructions
  1. Stir together melted butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and baking powder.
  3. Grate orange rind into the mix for extra flavor.
  4. Stir in flour until a solid ball of dough forms.
  5. Drop teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto a cookie sheet, about an inch apart.
  6. Bake in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

grate orange rind

In other scatterbrained related news – the second time I made these cookies, I was talking to a friend and didn’t realize until later (like 9 hours later) that I hadn’t put eggs into the mixing bowl. These still turned out to be my favorite cookies. So eggs in this recipe? Take ’em or leave ’em. These turn out fine either way. This is further proof that I can’t talk and cook at the same time. Like you needed more proof.

Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

Want to try the other varieties of these cookies?

Hey, just curious. What kind of timer do you use??

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Pyrex Storage Set Deal Alert!!

Christine emailed to tell me of this great deal on a 10-Piece Pyrex Storage Set. Get the entire set right now for just $12.63. No guarantees on how long this price will last. I have these, love them, and use them all the time!!


pyrex

Easy Chicken With Cream Cheese Sauce

I have a wonderful chicken recipe to share with you. But first, a story.

Cream Cheese Chicken

Once upon a time, I was dating my husband. I mean, my boyfriend. I mean, we weren’t married yet when we were dating but then we did get married and all of that barely has anything to do with this recipe.

But back in the days of our dating, engagement, and early marriage we drove an hour away from our college town each Sunday morning to a small church with a sweet youth group. Matt was their youth leader, teaching Bible classes and forming relationships with the teens. These dear ones became our church family, worshiping with us, throwing us a wedding shower, celebrating our marriage, being a part of our first pregnancy, and welcoming Baby #1 into the world with us.

Some of our fondest memories of those years are looking back to the Sunday afternoons in the homes of various church family members. They took turns signing up to feed us after church. Those meals!!! Talk about a church full of good cooks. The fellowship was precious and I can remember in detail many of the ladies’ specialties. We were very well taken care of, that is for sure.

Well, one of these ladies frequently made chicken that was slathered in the most delicious cream sauce. When we knew Carlene had signed up to feed us, I’d always say to Matt, “Ooooh, I hope she made that chicken this time!” Anytime she did make it and we sat there gushing over the meal, she’d always shake her head at us and say, “Oh. It’s just food.”

Right. Just food. Just the best chicken I’ve ever eaten!!!

Since that time, I’ve always regretted that I never got her recipe. I’m not even kidding you that 20 years later I still get hungry for that meal. Finally about a month ago I thought to myself, “Laura, are you or are you not the lady who invents recipes? For Pete’s sake, woman. Go to the kitchen and figure out how to make Carlene’s chicken.”

You’d think I would have considered this option before.

Well, my friends. I now present to you Not-Quite-Carlene’s Chicken with Cream Cheese Sauce. Make this.

Easy Chicken with Cream Cheese SauceYum

Easy Chicken With Cream Cheese Sauce
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat flour
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup palm shortening or other oil for frying
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Mix flour, salt, and pepper.
  2. Dip chicken in egg, then coat in flour mixture.
  3. Fry in oil for just a few minutes on each side. (Do not over cook or the chicken will become dry.)
  4. Remove chicken from pan.
  5. Pour chicken broth into the pan, scraping up the chicken drippings.
  6. Add softened cream cheese, stirring until smooth.
  7. Place cooked chicken back into the pan, coating on both sides with sauce.
  8. Serve with rice or pasta.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Prepare and fry meat as directed. Allow it to cool, then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to two days. Prepare sauce as directed and stir in the chicken, heating through.

Freezer Instructions

Prepare and fry meat as directed. Allow it to cool. Freeze in a well-sealed freezer bag for up to three months. To serve, thaw cooked meat. Prepare sauce as directed and stir in the chicken, heating through.

Easy Chicken with Cream Cheese Sauce Recipe

I can’t think of a brilliant way to end this post. Go make this chicken! There. That oughta do it.

Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole

Bacon Hashbrown Casserole

A friend had just stopped by when I was pulling this dish out of the oven for lunch earlier this week. It smelled quite amazing. She asked what it was, so I went down the list of ingredients our lunch included, “bacon, ranch dressing, sour cream, cheese…” Then this is when she said,

“Bacon? Ranch? Cheese? With all that in it, you know it’s going to be good!”

Yep, pretty much.  What’s not to love?

You might also love knowing how easy this is to make. Cook the bacon, stir in the other ingredients, spread it all in a cooking dish, put it into the oven. Easy. It does help if you have premade frozen hashbrowns and a jar of homemade ranch dressing mix ready to go. Just please put the lid on your ranch dressing before you shake it up. Please. I’m only here to help.

A big thanks to Plain Chicken for the idea for this recipe! I’m excited to think about possibilities of ways to continue tweaking this. Maybe add some cooked chicken to the mix? What else can you think of to add to this dish?

Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole
 
Author:
Serves: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 3 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 bag of frozen shredded hashbrowns (about 8 potatoes worth of homemade)
Instructions
  1. Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and cook.
  2. Drain grease.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together cooked bacon, shredded cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix.
  4. Fold in frozen hashbrowns until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Bake uncovered in a 350° oven for 45-60 minutes or until casserole is lightly browned and bubbly.

Some recipes you’ll need to go along with this one:

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix

Homemade Hashbrowns

Lately I’ve been finding really great deals on packaged hashbrowns at the store, so I’ve picked up a few to save me some time. I much prefer homemade, but busyness doesn’t always allow me the luxury. It’s good to be relaxed and flexible about healthy eating, right? Right.

So far I’ve only served this casserole for lunch or dinner. But I also think it would be great for breakfast or brunch!

Want to make Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole ahead and freeze it for later? Here’s how:

Make the casserole as directed. Before baking, cover well and freeze for up to three months. To cook and serve – thaw and bake as directed. Or, cover frozen casserole and place it into a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 225° and bake for 2-3 hours or until casserole has thawed, baked, and is heated through.

Bacon Ranch Hashbrown Casserole - Easy!

Note: This recipe is naturally gluten free. Hold onto this one if you have to avoid gluten – or so that you can bless friends who eat gluten free!

I’ll definitely be making this casserole often! Since it’s freezer-friendly, I’ll likely be making two or three at once so I can have no-brainer meals on hand for busy nights. After all, why dirty up more dishes tomorrow when tomorrow will have enough dirty dishes of its own? Right??