21 No-Bake Snacks for Summer

Frozen Yogurt Cups

Why is it that when a girl has had a variety of guests moving in and out of her house for three weeks straight and needs to get three of her sons packed and ready to head to camp for a week…

Her washing machine breaks?

It waited until the exact moment we used our last clean towel and needed to put clean sheets on the bed for our oldest son who was coming home from traveling (with a full suitcase of dirty camp clothes). No big deal.

I actually had to laugh when it happened because this was the fourth break-down in a series of doozies. “Of course my washing machine just broke,” I said to my dirty sheets as I pulled them back out of the washer. “The timing couldn’t be better; I can’t wait to tell Matt.”

Ahhh, Matt. At the time of my broken washing machine discovery, that guy was on our roof trying to find the source of a major leak issue. And the day before he’d been on the roof of one of our rental houses doing the exact same thing.

We still haven’t made a decision about buying a new-to-us vehicle since our van died a few weeks ago. And did I mention my grill won’t stay lit? Eh…who needs grilled steak or my very favorite grilled chicken? Who even does?

One might say, “The Coppingers sure are having a rough summer,” but I’m here to say that I’m actually having a great summer! When I look at the big picture of my life I see what’s actually true:

  • No fewer than four families offered to loan us a car until we get our van situation figured out. Four families! We took one family up on their offer because they had a car they weren’t even using right now. God provides.
  • Matt was able to stop the roofing work he was doing in order to spend a few hours fixing our washing machine. It was ready to go again just before the boys needed to wash laundry and pack. God provides. 
  • We haven’t had rain since the leaky roof discovery, and while we always welcome rain for the farms and gardens, we are thankful that Matt was able to fix the leak situations before the next downpour. God provides.
  • I miss the grill but until we can figure that issue out, I’ve got two crock pots, a stove-top, and have recently come up with a passel of Waffle Iron Recipes that help me avoid heating up the house with an oven. All together now…God provides.

Inconvenience isn’t the same as heart-ache. Broken things are just broken things. So who even cares that my coffee pot stopped working? Oh yeah, by the way, my coffee pot also stopped working. Now that one did threaten to push me over the edge into a pit of despair. I don’t even need transportation or clean clothes, but I do need coffee. I kid, I kid. Also, Mr. Coffee himself sent me a new one at no charge so does God provide? Oh yes I think He does.

21 No-Bake Snacks

And with that, I shall share with you 20 No-Bake Snack and Treat Recipes. We all need these whether we have a grill, a working vehicle, or a washing machine. Avoid turning on the oven and fill your fridge and freezer with these. They are low in sugar and super refreshing and tasty!

How’s your summer going? Are all things in working order at your house?

Strawberry Shortcake Waffles

I think it’s obvious that I’ve come to this conclusion about food: Why make it in the oven when you can make it in a waffle iron? This is most often true when trying to keep the house cool in the summertime. I love not having to turn on the oven!

Great Waffle Iron Hacks

After so many days of enjoying my waffle iron experiments, my family started suggesting more and more ideas for me. Hmm. Actually, it’s possible they were making fun of me. “Are you going to start making everything in the waffle iron now, Mom? Have you considered spaghetti?”

I don’t think they were serious, but don’t assume that I didn’t give it at least a few seconds of deliberation. I would have called it a Spaghaffle. But that sort of rhymes with awful and that’s where my brainstorm ended. You’re welcome.

shortcake waffle4

Other fun waffle iron experiments that actually work great:

Today’s new idea: Strawberry Shortcake Waffles. These turned out fantastic. Also, they are cute. This matters very much.

shortcake waffle 3

I adapted my original Strawberry Shortcake recipe and tried scooping it into my waffle iron. We went through several pounds of strawberries and a lot of homemade whipped cream the morning I first made these. Top with Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait filling if you want an even bigger treat!

Strawberry Shortcake Waffles

Strawberry Shortcake Waffles
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4-5 cups of fresh, sliced strawberries
  • Whipped cream (fresh cream whipped to form soft peaks, with a bit of stevia or sugar added for sweetness)
Instructions
  1. Mix together flour and baking powder.
  2. Add in eggs, honey, oil, vanilla and milk.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Scoop ½ cup batter into a waffle iron and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Repeat until all waffle cakes are completed.
  6. Serve with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

How to Make Strawberry Shortcake Waffles

Let’s keep the waffle iron recipes coming, shall we? Anybody have any new ideas for me? And please note that the idea of Tossed Salad Waffles have already been suggested, considered, and thrown out during a Coppinger Waffle Discussion. The sky is not the limit when it comes to waffle iron recipes. Just almost.

Simple Crock Pot Taco Pasta

After experimenting with the Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta and discovering that we can dump uncooked pasta into a crock pot, then walk away and come back to a finished meal a few hours later, I’ve been on a mission to see what other varieties of pasta our crock pots can cook for us.

Not that cooking pasta is difficult, but if we can even skip that step in our real food culinary endeavors, we can consider all of life a vacation. The conversation can go something like this:

Person: What do you do all day?
You and Me: I spend a lot of time not cooking pasta.

We can expand the conversation by explaining that we also spend a lot of our time not thawing meat, and an additional portion of our day not soaking beans. We have become experts at all the kitchen tasks we don’t do while still managing to put amazing, real food meals on the table.

This Simple Meals life is beautiful, isn’t it?!

The Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta really saved my neck one day recently when I had only three hours to make a meal for a table full of last minute company. I grabbed a package of pasta and two jars of sauce from my pantry, dumped it all in the crock pot and did not go back into the kitchen until time to serve the cooked meal along with some fresh fruit and fresh greens from our garden.

The Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole would have worked just as nicely. And today I will show you how to turn this Simple Skillet Taco Pasta recipe into an effortless crock pot recipe.

crock pot taco pasta1

The first time I made this was a day I had to have one kid out the door by 8:00, another kid and my husband out the door by 8:50, myself out the door by 10:00, and lunch on the table for my entire family plus a house guest by 12:30. I had some leftover taco meat in the fridge, so I dumped it into the crock pot with a package of dry pasta, stirred in two jars of salsa, and added some water. I sprinkled in some sea salt and left the house.

When I came home at 12:15, I stirred the delicious smelling meal, spread on some shredded cheese, and let the food sit while I got out grapes and salad. Lunch was served within minutes of me not being home to cook. I am so grateful for recipes like this!

Crock Pot Taco Pasta

If you don’t want to wait 2-3 hours for this casserole to cook itself in the crock pot, simply follow this Simple Skillet Taco Pasta version instead. It’ll be ready in about 20 minutes from start to finish. But for the I don’t have one minute to spare days...

Simple Crock Pot Taco Pasta

Simple Crock Pot Taco Pasta
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground taco meat (cooked)
  • 16-ounces whole grain pasta (uncooked)
  • 32-ounces salsa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Stir all ingredients into a crock pot.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  3. Stir mixture.
  4. Top with cheese and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Simple Crock Pot Taco Pasta

Obviously it helps to make this recipe easier if you have some leftover meat all cooked and ready to go. I love using seasoned hamburger meat, but leftover Shredded Ranch Chicken would work great too. Any time I’m making seasoned meat, I always make extra so I can use leftovers in salads or meals like this!

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Do you have any other great ideas for me as for sauces to cook pasta in the crock pot?

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Simple Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles

When it comes to kitchen appliances, I’m sure most of us would agree that we don’t want any gadgets that only serve one purpose. Never shall I own a Quesadilla Maker or a Hot Dog Toaster (yes, that is a real thing).

But a waffle iron? Sure, we can assume they only make waffles and therefore wonder if they are worth the purchase because of the single job they perform. But guess what? I’ve been on a “what else can I make in my waffle iron?” kick lately, and I’m here to share some delightful waffle iron hacks!

The Waffle Iron: Good for so much more than just making waffles. Check it out…

eggs and cheese hashbrown waffles2

It looks like a regular waffle. But it’s eggs, cheese, and hashbrowns, and it’s ridiculously good.

Why Waffle Iron Experiments?

Perhaps it’s the ease of making food in a waffle iron, the fact that I can easily offer a “made to order” option for picky eaters, and that I can make as many “waffles” that we need as we need them. Using a waffle iron instead of an oven on a hot day is also a huge perk because it doesn’t heat up the house!

And the best part: it’s fun. Somehow making food in the shape of a waffle is more fun than making food in the shape of normal.

Earlier this week I shared how you can make Waffle Omelets (otherwise known as Womelets). Later I will show you how you can make Waffle Muffins (perhaps we will call them Wuffins, though we hesitate to get carried away). And who knows what else this summer will bring as we avoid turning on the oven and test our waffle iron to the limits.

Today, I show you how to make Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles. These are hearty and filling, naturally gluten/grain free, can be adapted for each family member’s preferences, and are fun to serve. The only difference is that there is no obvious way to cleverly rename these because saying Washbrowns is just weird.

Simple Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles

Simple Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs
  • 1½ pounds frozen hashbrowns (or freshly made, see link below)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Add in options: chopped meat, chopped veggies such as onions, pepper, mushrooms, or asparagus
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs and stir in all other ingredients.
  2. (For picky eaters, leave the add-in options separate to add to each waffle individually.)
  3. Scoop ½-3/4 cup of egg/hashbrown mixture into waffle iron.
  4. Top with add-ins.
  5. Close waffle iron and cook for 3-5 minutes until brown and crispy.
  6. Serve as is or with hot sauce if desired.

Want to make your own hashbrowns to keep in the freezer? Learn an easy method here!

Simple Egg and Cheese Hashbrown Waffles

Recipes for your Waffle Iron

Have any ideas for me? What creative ways have you found to use your waffle iron?

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Simple Waffle Omelets – perfect for any meal!

We might as well just call these “Womelets” because that’s what keeps coming out of my mouth when I try to talk about Waffle Omelets. I’m excited to share this recipe idea with you, but I’m sorry for causing all of you to be in this tricky verbal situation.

The cool thing is that these Womelets (I’ve given up on  trying to say it correctly) really are fun to make and super tasty.

waffle omlet2

Here are some Waffle Omelet highlights:

  • You can make everyone’s Waffle Omelet to fit each person’s preferences.
  • These are super quick and simple to make.
  • You can make Waffle Omelets for a quick dinner when/if you forgot to thaw meat to prep for your meal.
  • You can prepare ingredients ahead of time and store them in the fridge to pull out and make Womelets at the spur of the moment.
  • These are inexpensive!

By the way, have I ever told you what a messy cook I am? Truly. If there are three people standing side by side putting together making food, you will be able to tell which cooking station was mine because of all the food that had been dripped, drizzled, slopped, and spilled in my area.

I am especially good at making a mess of these Womelets, as I often overestimate how much liquid to pour into the waffle iron. Out of the iron the egg mixture will spill, causing a huge mess of slime down the sides and all over the counter-top. Have I no shame?

In addition, you should see me try to take the Waffle Omelets out of the waffle iron without tearing them to bits. Notice, above, how I finally gave up and took a picture of the omelet directly in the waffle iron? It was better this way.

I finally figured out that if I use hot pads and pick the waffle iron up, then dump the omelet onto the plate, it actually comes out easily and pretty. How about that? No mess! (You’ll see below that it folded itself in half while being dumped, but it was the best I could do.)

waffle omlet

I’ve finally learned that for my waffle iron, it takes somewhere between 1/2-3/4 cup of egg mixture to make one nice waffle omelet without spilling over.

Fill your mixture with any combination of meat, cheese, and chopped veggies that you like! I suggest mixing the eggs, milk, and salt in a bowl, then you can add your “fillings” as you make each individual waffle omelet so you can make it according to taste!

Simple Waffle Omelets

Simple Omelet Waffles - perfect for any meal!
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • Any variety of chopped meat, diced veggies, and shredded cheeses you like.
Instructions
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, and salt.
  2. Heat and grease waffle iron.
  3. Scoop egg mixture into waffle iron to fill the bottom about ¾ full. (Mine takes ½-3/4 cup of mixture).
  4. Add in any fillings you like.
  5. Close waffle iron and cook for 3-4 minutes until eggs are cooked through.
  6. Serve right away.

Simple Waffle Omelets

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Simple Tex-Mex Creamy Chicken

I have made a decision. It is a big one and I appreciate your support. Thank you in advance.

As of now, until further notice, I shall not soak and cook my beans.

tex mex chicken1

Canned beans for the Simple Meals win.

I know. This news is big. But my beans and I have valid reasons for such a drastic change in our relationship.

Indeed I used to be a faithful bean soaker and cooker, but the demands of working full time while homeschooling teens, chauffeuring teens, feeding teens, supporting teens, and finding a tiny moment in my day to say hello to my husband have led me to kick bean-prep off my priority list. It’s either buy canned beans or become a beanless family. Long live the bean.

I am well aware that bean-cooking is not difficult. A child could do it. But I found that I almost never remember to soak beans ahead of time because I’m too often in my car running my kids to all of their social/church/work/sports/ministry outings. (And by the way, if one more person says something to me about homeschoolers not getting enough socialization I shall happily throw my van keys and event calendar at them and make them take my kids to all their social events so they can see the truth and laugh as they realize they most definitely never had a need to worry. Said person shall need a nap after this feat, but there’s no time for one – and this is why I don’t soak my beans.)

I can hear what some of you are saying. “Get an Instant Pot!” But we’ve been through all of this so I’ll have to ask that you cheerfully support my decision and let me open my cans of beans in peace.

This post has a point (thank goodness). And also a recipe. It will come as no surprise to you when you see that said recipe includes a can of black beans.

Substitute canned beans with those you have soaked/cooked yourself if you like. Best news of the day: I did the math and learned that when I buy canned black beans by the case it does not cost me anymore than if I were to buy dried beans and make them myself. I had no idea! You might also like learning that this dish I am about to share with you costs around $2.00/serving for my family. Not too shabby for a real food meal that sufficiently fills teenage boys.

Bet you’re hoping I’ll just go ahead and share the recipe already.

Simple Tex-Mex Creamy Chicken

Simple Tex-Mex Creamy Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 16-ounces salsa
  • 15-ounces black beans
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 cups sour cream
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, brown chicken pieces in olive oil, seasoning them with chili powder and salt.
  2. Once chicken is cooked through and through (about five minutes on each side) add salsa, black beans, and corn.
  3. Simmer for about two minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.
  5. Serve over brown rice, pasta, or tortilla chips

Simple Tex-Mex Creamy Chicken

Note that adding sour cream to this makes the chicken mixture thick and creamy without any effort to make a cream sauce. That’s what makes this recipe so simple!

A huge time and money saver for our family (and many others!) has been our great Simple Meals program. Join us and be amazed at how this simplifies your life – plus you’ll love the easy, healthy, real food you’ll be putting on the table so quickly each day. We’ll welcome all who soak their beans and all who don’t, because we’re all friends and no one shall be beanless. Check it out and join here!

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More Simple Recipes

Real Food Recipes That Are Easy AND Save You Money

I used to make everything from scratch. Everything. Ketchup, graham crackers, and even mozzarella cheese. It’s great to have the skills and knowledge to do this. But at a certain point I had to ask:

Am I getting enough bang for my buck, here? As in, is the time I’m taking and the energy I’m extending to make all of this food really saving me money and therefore, is it worth it?

mozzcheese2sm

For the record, homemade mozzarella costs more than store-bought.

Now, sometimes it’s worth putting forth the effort or spending more to make food from scratch because of the health benefit and great flavor. I mean, I don’t even care how much it saves or doesn’t save to make Homemade Ranch Dressing because this recipe tastes thousands of times better than the bottled stuff and it only includes healthy ingredients. I don’t want high fructose corn syrup on my salad.

ranchdressin2sm

But as my schedule has gotten busier and as the quantity of food we plow through every day has increased, I’ve had to be more choosy about what I make, what I buy pre-made, and what I skip altogether.

For instance, I used to make all of our Whole Wheat Tortillas, without fail. These taste amazing and we miss them, but it takes triple the amount of tortillas to get us through a meal now, compared to the days my kids were little. It’s a rare occasion that I “go to the trouble” to make tortillas now, because it takes over an hour to get the job done. (Though when I do, there is much rejoicing.) We either skip tortillas now (often subbing corn chips), or I’ll buy a case from Azure Standard to keep in the freezer.

Having said all of that, today I thought I’d share some recipes I’ve stuck with for all these years, even with a busier schedule and a higher volume of food consumption. These recipes are worth my time, because the time investment is tiny. And they are cheaper than store-bought so they are a win-win! Also, homemade always tastes better, so score one more for that!

Real Food Recipes that are Easy and Save Money

Seasoning Mixes

I make all of our Ranch Dressing Mix, Italian Dressing Mix, Onion Soup Mix, and Taco Seasoning Mix. These cost pennies to make, saving a significant amount. And since I make big batches, the time saved on these is great!

condiments

Vanilla Extract

The price of beans has gone up, but it still saves money to make Homemade Vanilla Extract. It’s ridiculously easy to make, and well worth the effort because homemade vanilla is amazing!

vanilla_four

Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread

We don’t eat as much bread as we used to at our house. I think it’s wholesome and filling and my family loves it, but I prefer to fill everyone with more nutrient-packed sides like fruits and veggies. So bread has taken a back seat at our house.

I do sometimes buy a loaf of 100% whole wheat sandwich bread for sandwiches when we need to pack them for a road trip. But for bread at home, when as do eat it with a meal, I make this Stir-and-Pour Whole Wheat Bread. It takes hardly any time or effort, and it doesn’t cost very much. And it tastes awesome!

stir and pour bread loaf 5

Homemade Granola

I discovered this 5-Minute Granola Method and haven’t looked back. I add in whatever we have (dried fruit or chocolate chips) and we’ve got ourselves a great cereal for much less than store bought!

Stove-Top Granola

All of these Simple Meal Recipes

Check out this Spanish Rice Bowl and the long list of other Simple Real Food Recipes it includes. I keep coming up with more of these recipes and am amazed at how much time and money they are saving! I’ve cut down my kitchen time with these Simple Recipes so much that I feel like a cheater. Almost. ;)

spanish rice bowl11

Cool Pineapple Cream Dessert

This is ridiculously easy and so super yummy! Throw three ingredients in the blender and you’re set!

pineapple dessert 3

Special Coffee Drinks

It’s a rare thing for us to spend $$ at a coffee shop since we can make fun coffee drinks at home for much less! This Chocolate Frappe is awesome. Sometimes we put this Chocolate Whipped Cream in our coffee. We freeze coffee into ice cubes like this to make easy Iced Coffees. This Coffee Milkshake is awesome in the summertime. Sometimes I make a big batch of Chocolate Iced Coffee to offer several people at once. While all of these take a little time, it doesn’t feel like a lot of effort because it’s FUN to make drinks like this!

What are some of the foods you make from scratch that are easy and save money?

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Simple Green Chile Chicken

My husband has a prayer lunch with a few other guys every Tuesday at noon. Sometimes he takes his full lunch with him, and some days he takes just a light snack, then eats more when he gets home. One day recently, he had plans to eat light at his prayer lunch, then come home and eat this Simple Green Chile Chicken.

If only I’d told the boys of his plans.

I’d eaten my share of this lunch right after I pulled it out of the oven, but in the hubbub of finishing school assignments throughout the morning, the boys trickled into the table later, little by little. Just a few minutes before Matt was to arrive home, I heard one of the boys say, “Glad Dad already ate since I just had the last of this chicken.”

Oops. Sorry, Matt.

green chile chicken

The good news: This chicken is so good, the whole family will eat it without complaint (and not leave enough for Dad).

The other good news: This recipe is so easy I can actually find time to make it even on a busy school/work morning! Of course, that means it’s quick to make in the evening for dinner too. (Often during soccer season we have our bigger meal at lunchtime – but who am I kidding? We have big meals three times a day.)

Simple Green Chile Chicken

Simple Green Chile Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 8-ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (any variety)
  • 4-ounces green chilies (no need to drain)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in a 9x13 inch dish.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients (I do this quickly in my Blendtec), and spread the mixture over the chicken evenly.
  3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Simple Green Chile Chicken

What you might notice about this recipe is the simplicity of blending all the cheese sauce ingredients together before spreading it over your chicken. This is great for a couple of reasons:

  • Making it this way saves time and effort. (Toss ingredients into a blender, mix, then pour over chicken. Easy!)
  • Blending the peppers into the sauce makes picky eaters enjoy this without complaint.

Note to self: Always double this recipe so there is enough for everyone in my family to eat some. (Why I hadn’t already thought of that I do not know.)

And with that, I will present you with our ever-growing list of Simple Recipes that will provide your family with real food that is super delicious, but will make your kitchen efforts minimal!

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Join Simple Meals

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Simple Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken

Brace yourselves. Today we’re going to learn to butter up a chicken and rub him down with herbs and spices. This might not be the most precious moment of your day, but I guarantee you will find it to all be worth it after you taste your delicious Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken.

simple rotisserie chicken

Now, I’ve buttered many a slice of bread in my day. I would even venture to say I’m pretty good at it. But never before had I buttered a bird – until the first day I made this chicken.

Recipe research told me to “brush on the butter.” But that would require that I melt butter in a saucepan and dirty up a pastry brush. In the name of lazyness simplicity, I just slapped butter on my bird with a butter knife.

Did it work? Meh, good enough. I figure what didn’t get spread on smoothly will just melt and drizzle itself over the skin while baking.

Now, beyond the butter, we’ve got to do a little chicken massage for this recipe too. Don’t freak out about this because your hands will wash up just fine afterward. Sure, rubbing spices over a raw piece of meat in the shape of well, a chicken, will feel strange. But you can do this.

Here’s why the buttering up and the rubbing down are well worth your few minutes awkward chicken moments:

  • You will create a most delicious meal for your family. This chicken is incredibly juicy and flavorful.
  • All the “effort” you put forth to create this chicken will take less than 10 minutes.
  • You’ll save money, because making this chicken at home costs less than buying one pre-made.

So gather up your chickens and let the fun begin.

Simple Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken

Simple Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound chicken
  • 3 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Remove gizzards from the cavity. Discard them or save them to make broth later.
  3. Spread or brush butter over the chicken.
  4. Mix herbs and spices in a bowl, then rub them all over the chicken.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degree oven for 2½ hours.

Oh yes. I failed to mention the “reach up into the ‘cavity’ of the chicken and pull out the little bag of gizzards.” I guess I was trying to stop while I was ahead so as to avoid scaring you away from this recipe. But alas, this task cannot be avoided.

I’ve found it’s best to go ahead and say “eeeewwww” while completing this gizzard removal step, because that’s how I feel and it truly is helpful to express oneself verbally during moments of trouble.

So before you butter and rub your chicken, get the gizzard step over with. After that, you will feel empowered to do anything. All hail queen/king chicken preparers. We are all super heroes.

Simple Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken

Keep this meal simple by serving this chicken with tossed salad, a steamed veggie, and fresh fruit (like strawberries, pineapple, or cantaloupe).

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Simple Build-a-Spanish-Rice-Bowl

Sometimes I think I have picky eaters at my house. Then I realize that my kids eat a huge variety of foods and I should be grateful.

I mean, when I was a little girl, I liked exactly two varieties of fruits and vegetables: green beans (canned) and apples (with the peeling off). Somehow this kept me alive, I made it to college, and learned to eat salads (to avoid the Freshman 15, of course). Later, I got married and found out about a thing called broccoli. Little by little through the years, I’ve tried and liked dozens of fruits and veggies, expanding my repertoire many times over.

Though I still don’t like jicama.

It’s okay though because I often sit in my recliner snacking on raw spinach, which isn’t even weird, not even a little bit, am I right? I can’t figure out why my teenagers tease me about this.

Well anyway, my kids aren’t really picky, I’m realizing, because they like and eat a big variety of fruits and veggies. But still, we all have our preferences. Some of us really like cheese and some of us think it’s fun to snack on spinach.

Because of our wide variety of preferences, sometimes, instead of making a meal that everyone has to eat whether they like it or not, it’s fun to instead set out a big buffet of choices and everyone can build their own plate or bowl.

I love this idea so much that I include a category for this every single week in our Simple Meals plans. Build-Your-Own buffets are a huge time saver and make for a really fun meal too!

Today’s idea is Build a Spanish Rice Bowl.

I used to make Spanish Rice all in one pot, but some people like corn and some don’t. Some like black beans and some don’t. Some want sour cream and some don’t. I have found it easiest to simply set out all the fixin’s and let everyone build their bowl the way they like.

We each pile in our favorites:

spanish rice bowl41

Then stir it up and dive in.

spanish rice bowl11

The bowl above has a lot of greens (bet you can guess which mom that belongs to), no rice (can we even still call it spanish rice?), a whole lotta ground beef and black beans, and a dollop of sour cream.

But this one got piled up with rice, meat, beans, corn, and salsa without the greens and sour cream.

spanish rice bowls21

So it got stirred up to look like this.

spanish rice bowls31

At the end of the meal, everyone was satisfied and happy because their bowl was filled with everything they wanted and nothing they didn’t want. Of course, many participants in this meal filled their bowl more than once, which is also fun because they could either choose to fill it the same way as the first time or create something new the second (or third) time around.

Build a Spanish Rice Bowl

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Simple Build-a-Spanish-Rice-Bowl
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef, seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, and salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Fresh greens
  • Cooked corn
Instructions
  1. Set out any or all of the ingredients listed above, along with anything else your family might like.
  2. Allow each person to fill their bowl the way they like.

Those are just some of the foods you might want to set out for your Build a Spanish Rice Bowl buffet. I’d love to hear of any add-in ideas your family might like.

Build a Spanish Rice Bowl

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