Simple Oven Fried Chicken

Oh look. It’s another post about chicken. It’s like we just can’t get enough.

fried-chicken2

My men-filled family loves fried chicken. Who doesn’t?

I used to stand at my electric skillet every couple of weeks frying a bunch of chicken legs, and I’d make a pot of mashed potatoes, use the chicken drippings to make gravy…oh I’d go all out. I did it because my family loved it and I love them.

It’s not that my family doesn’t still love fried chicken and it most certainly isn’t that I don’t still love my family. But at this point in my life, spending over an hour cooking one messy meal just isn’t something I can do. We’ve missed the fried chicken, for sure. But we all like it when Mama can use her nice words, so in a joint effort to keep me sane, no one has complained too much.

I finally decided to experiment with Oven Fried Chicken, though I didn’t see how it could possibly be as good as “actual” fried chicken. My family all agrees that it’s not...quite as good as actual fried chicken. But when the alternative is NO fried chicken, all six of us rally behind this and appreciate its simplicity and goodness.

Simple Oven Fried Chicken

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Oven Fried Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 8-10 bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1 cup flour (any grain you like)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
Instructions
  1. Place butter in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Put dish in oven as it preheats to 400 degrees. The butter will melt as the oven preheats.
  3. In the meantime, mix flour, garlic powder, salt, parsley, and paprika in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Shake to mix.
  4. Put chicken pieces into the bag, seal, and shake until the chicken is well coated.
  5. Place prepared chicken in the dish of melted butter, giving each piece plenty of space for more even cooking.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes, turning chicken after the first 25 minutes of bake time.

simple-oven-fried-chicken

You might be wondering, as you look at the pictures above, “WHERE are the mashed potatoes??!” Where, indeed. But we went through all this a few days ago when I admitted that I’d broken up with mashed potatoes after years of happiness. We’ve agreed to remain friends, but for now, when I make this Simple Oven Fried Chicken, I stick with simple sides that take no effort. (I mean, if I don’t have time to make fried chicken, I surely don’t have time to make mashed potatoes.)

I guess it could be said that now that I’ve discovered this Oven Fried Chicken recipe, I’ve also broken up with “real” Fried Chicken. (Don’t worry Fat Bombs. I’ll love you forever. XOXO.) But at least this Oven Fried Chicken is the next best thing so we can keep our kitchen life simple and eat our chicken too.

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

Truly, all of these recipes are ridiculously easy, good, and nourishing.

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals yet, you are missing out on SIMPLE becoming even MORE SIMPLE! (It’s actually possible. I do the work for you!) Check it out here. Get an full Simple Meals Planning Packet in your inbox every single week!

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The Time I Got Attacked About Mashed Potatoes

It’s funny what people will say on social media. I find it especially humorous when I say a brief statement, link to a post, then people react to my words without clicking over to actually read the post.

Here’s what I shared on Facebook a few weeks ago:

facebook-mashed-potatoes

My intent with this Facebook post was to share some ways to cut back on our time in the kitchen. To share some easy recipes to make kitchen life easier for busy families. Everyone wants to hear about this, right?

But before I knew it, people were commenting, “What’s so hard about making mashed potatoes?!” and “Sounds like someone is too lazy to do their dishes!”

Lazy. Yes, that’s definitely it.

For the record, I didn’t actually feel attacked about my mashed potatoes. The comments were barely negative and most people shared nice comments. People like to share their opinions, and sure, sometimes their words can seem to come out a little harshly. I’ve grown a thicker skin through the years. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but mashed potatoes? Naw.

One thing I learned is this: Some people truly don’t find it difficult to make mashed potatoes regularly. I think this is fantastic. Bring on the gravy.

As for me? The thought of making mashed potatoes often, during this season in my life, truly does cause me stress.

Through the years, I’ve pared back and pared back and pared back on my kitchen duties. My family eats more food than ever, and at the same time, I have less time than ever to devote to cooking and cleaning.

Making mashed potatoes truly is easy – I get that. But for me, right now, they are hard. They create more dirty dishes than I’m willing to add to my already overflowing sink. They make extra steps in putting together a meal – and seeing as we are stepping all over ourselves trying to keep up with life – they are steps I’m not able to take right now. I guess we could say that with everything else I’m juggling right now, I’m not able to also juggle a pot full of potatoes. (Go ahead though. Try and picture it.)

I can do a simple main dish along with salad and steamed veggies. That’s it, and I love it. This is easy, doable, and nourishing and doesn’t require the boiling and the mashing nor any effort on my part to keep the mixer from spraying potatoes all over my cabinets and floor. (Clean cooking is not my gift.)

Someday maybe I’ll get back on the mashed potato train. Or not. I kind of like this new “keep the meals simple and good” lifestyle. This is what Simple Meals is made of. This is why so many of us love it. (Here’s a shameless plug to say, “You should totally join Simple Meals if you haven’t already. Do that here. I’ll give you $10 off.)

I’ll save the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I’ll stick with baking potatoes because they are easier and less messy and more versatile.

7 Ways to Use Baked Potatoes

 

How about you? Have you given up on mashed potatoes like I have, or are you a mashed potato champion?

The Simple Meals Our Family Has Been Eating This Week, Part 2

I’m assuming you downloaded your FREE Simple Meals Planning Packet this week? It is free, after all. Go get yours!

I posted earlier this week about how I’ve been using this week’s Simple Meals menu to easily get food on the table for my family. As it turns out, I used half the plan last week and am finishing it up this week. (Perks of being the one who creates the menu plans – I got to start using it ahead of time!) If you missed it, check out this post which shares pictures of the first few meals in the plan.

Here we go with Days 5 and 6 of following the Simple Meals plan!

Day 5: Crock Pot NightSimple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

To kick-start a new week, on Sunday night, right before I headed to bed, I put together the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast. For the record, if you forget to start that recipe at night before bed (because at the end of the day, some of us who shall remain nameless might be too tired to remember to execute good plans like this), you can always start it early in the morning to have it ready in the evening in time for dinner.

I was very proud of myself for remembering to start the roast on Sunday night, and woke up the next morning to the delicious smell of our lunch. I turned the crock pot to “keep warm” setting and at lunch time I stir-fried some veggies to go with our meal. (We have been having our main meals at lunchtime lately because it’s working better with our busy evening activities schedule.)

sm feb6

I got this fun note from Susan last week about the Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast recipe and wanted to share!

Thank you so much for sharing this common recipe. I mean, who hasn’t already made a roast in the crockpot before? But your tips were amazing. And I didn’t know I could put it in the crock without first browning it in a pan (this always felt like so much trouble, and would discourage me from making this dish when I was in a hurry). And Frozen!  Are you kidding me? Well – I did it – just like you suggested. Cooked on low for 12 hours, and it was the best tasting, most tender roast beef I’ve ever made. Oh, and I cooked carrots in the bottom, and their flavor was wonderful. Thank you again.

Fun, huh? Thanks, Susan. This is what Simple Meals is all about!

Day 6: No Trouble NightSimple Pizza Chicken Bake

The final meal on this week’s Simple Meals menu was Simple Pizza Chicken Bake. I could go on and on about how easy this recipe is to make and how very delicious it is to eat. I served it with green beans and tossed salad, so as always, this went on the table very quickly.

sm feb 7

Hopefully you enjoyed the free Simple Meals Planning Packet!

I’d love all of you to take advantage of the Simple Meals Subscription offer! Just think. A complete menu plan and grocery list will land in your inbox every single week, along with a bunch of bonus tips and recipes. Your small investment (which we promise to make very, very worth it) will save you so much time, energy, and money every week! You won’t have to think about what to cook. Bliss. And the meal suggestions are incredibly simple, yet detailed to make everything easy for you.

Don’t forget there’s a $10 off coupon waiting for you here, plus over $60 worth of freebies that are yours after your purchase. That means you get more in freebies than the cost of your entire yearly subscription. Score!

Simple Meals is a ridiculously good offer. (We made it super affordable for all! Less than $1 per week!) Can’t wait to have you join us!

Join Simple Meals Here.

Real Food Compromises I Make So We Can Stay Within Budget (and ways I will never compromise)

Pardon me while I eat my organic raw greens with free range chicken IN BETWEEN SIPS OF PEPSI.

That was me just a few years ago. Cute, huh? Makes no sense, right? Those were the days I had a small panic attack anytime someone offered my kids a non-organic apple. No! That will poison them!! It MUST be organic! Regular beef from the store is horrid and so is all milk that comes out of a jug! Oooh, are those Nacho Cheese Doritos? Don’t mind if I do.

Suffice it to say that in the early years of my real food journey, as I was learning about nutrition and food sources, the good, the bad, and the ugly – I turned a little bit crazy. I over-freaked out about all the food issues in America and had nightmares about evil pesticides coming to life and grabbing us by the throats. But all the while, I had an awful time giving up Pepsi, Doritos, and basically anything that started with a de and ended with a ssert. Oh yes. I loved my sugar.

chocolate_cake

So first things first: If you’re new (or not so new) to eating real food and struggling to trade in all of the “bad stuff” for all of the “good stuff” all at the same time, RELAX. You’ll settle in to what’s best for your family. Your body and taste buds will adjust. Your cravings will change. God will help you.

It took years for me, but I don’t even want Pepsi or sugary foods now. And (shhh), sometimes my kids walk into the room and find me snacking on raw spinach leaves. You don’t even have to tell me how weird the spinach thing is. I already know, because it is obvious, and because my kids have been happy to tell me. (But I also still like a Dorito or three now and then, because when you refuse to read the ingredient list, the disodium guanylate can’t hurt you.)

So now that I’m about 11 years into our Real Food Journey, let me share with you some of the food patterns I’ve settled into. Some of these decisions have been made because I took a big chill pill and realized that when all is said and done, God is bigger than a free range chicken.

I’ve also had to make some choices based on our ever growing food budget needs. With four male teenage athletes in our home, along with a hard working, athletic husband – we buy a huge cart full of groceries every week. If I bought organic everything, free range everything, the very best of everything everything – I would spend $3,000-$4,000 a month on groceries (not an exaggeration). I think my food budget is already high enough, thank you very much.

Real Food Compromises I Make So We Can Stay Within Budget

Real Food Compromises I Make So We Can Stay Within Budget

1. Not everything I buy is organic.

I used to be much more diligent about this – especially when it came to the “Dirty Dozen” list. But as our kids got bigger and began eating huge quantities of food, the cost of buying organic food exclusively became impossible. When it came to fruits and vegetables, I noticed that since I couldn’t afford all organic produce, I stopped buying much produce at all!

So let’s see…should we stop eating many fruits and vegetables because I couldn’t buy them all organically, or choose to buy the “regular” ones so we would still be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables?

Through prayer, I found much peace in buying regular produce and feeding us a wide variety of fresh produce consistently. (This applies to our dairy products too. We have a great source for organic, raw milk, but not for sour cream, butter, and cream cheese.)

When foods are available at reasonable prices I can afford, I most definitely buy organic. But my bigger goal is to fill us with many nourishing fruits and vegetables every day, even if they haven’t been grown in a way I feel is best. God is bigger, but my budget is not. So God wins.

groceries 411

2. Sugar is sugar, so why pay more?

When making treats, I still prefer to use organic sucanat. But I’ve stopped using it exclusively because it costs so much more than regular ol’ brown sugar. At the end of the day, our bodies don’t care what kind of sugar we’re feeding it – it wreaks the same kind of havoc. So that’s another compromise I have made, which you can read details about here.

I do still avoid high fructose corn syrup, which means we use Real Maple Syrup on our pancakes and waffles and to sweeten a few treats (like smoothies). I’ve personally found that Liquid Stevia is my favorite sweetener, though my kids aren’t huge fans. :)

sucanat

3. The cheese may not be raw. But at least it’s cheese.

I really like raw, organic cheese that hasn’t been turned freakishly orange with food dye. But wow do we go through a lot of cheese at our house. Therefore, to save money, I’ve gone back to buying regular Colby jack cheese blocks at the store. You can read more about this here.

cheese

4. I buy pork products at the store.

I have had a huge dilemma over this through the years. Pork is not the healthiest meat choice – I know this. I used to avoid it altogether. Then I started buying a little from a farmer who had healthier, but kind of expensive, pork options. Then, because I’ve found that starting our day with a high protein breakfast really is best for my family of teenage boy athletes (and their non-athletic mom who really feels much better when she eats a lot of protein and fat) – I started adding in more bacon and ham.

It tastes so ridiculously good.

We eat more beef and chicken than pork, but I’ve stopped worrying about avoiding pork altogether, and I typically buy the regular ol’ piggies from the store. I usually stock up when there’s a good price-match option, so this helps save our budget. Then I save time by cooking it up ahead of time for fast breakfasts.

oven-bacon3

Real Food Compromises I Just Can’t Make, Even if it Saves Money

1. I will never buy margarine.

I don’t even like to type the word. At our house, it’s real butter all the way. I don’t care that it costs more. I trust real butter because it is made from cream and salt – and those are real food ingredients our bodies can use for nourishment. Marga-blech is made in a factory from chemicals our bodies don’t recognize and can’t utilize for nutrition. This makes my stomach churn. Butter for the win.

butter

2. I make unattractive faces when I think about Jif and Skippy.

Peanut butter “spreads,” as they are labeled, contain FULLY hydrogenated oils and a bunch of added sugar. When I learned this, our family transitioned to buying Natural Peanut Butter, though admittedly, we didn’t love it. (Plus I found that stirring it every time we needed it was a big pain in the neck – and messy too.)

Next I started making peanut butter like this, which is more amazing than ever. THEN, I discovered how to make this creamy, spreadable homemade peanut butter and we are all in love. My kids actually brag about this peanut butter to their friends.

peanut_butter

3. “Processed Cheese Food” shouldn’t have a shelf life.

I had a hard time giving up velveeta – and I won’t say I’ll never eat it again – but it’s kind of freakish, wouldn’t you say? I’ve noticed that the price keeps going up (over $6.00 for a block, really?) so it’s not like buying it actually saves money compared to making our own cheese sauce.

But who even cares about velveeta now that we can make this amazing Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Dip Recipe!

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

I’m probably forgetting a thing or two, but I would say those are the main compromises I make, as well as the biggest compromises I feel strongly about not making. Care to share what real food compromises you make to help you save money – and what you feel like you just can’t compromise on?

Ways Our Family Saves Money So We Can Afford Our High Grocery Bill (And a few ways we splurge)

Hi. I’m the mom with the really high, make you pass out, grocery bill. There are about zero things I can do about it, what with all my teenage boys in the house, so we’re continually thankful that God keeps providing.

(Actually, speaking of things I can do about it, I’m planning to document our grocery spending very specifically during the month of February to show you all the ins and outs of what I buy. I’m also going to challenge myself to see if, in fact, there are any other ways I can cut grocery costs. Stay tuned.)

Ways our family saves money so we can afford our high grocery bill

Today I decided to make a list of non-food ways we cut spending so we can make our monthly grocery budget bigger. I’d love to hear about some of the ways you save too! I’d also love to hear what some of your splurges are. (Every family has different events and items they consider priority or treats, right?)

Here are a few ways our family cuts back so we can buy the amount of food it takes to keep our family full and healthy.

Ways we save money so we can pay our high grocery bill

1. We make coffee at home.

Sound silly? What I mean is – we very rarely buy coffee and specialty drinks at a coffee shop. If I want to enjoy coffee with a friend, typically I invite her to my home to drink coffee at my table. (I can make a pretty mean cup of coffee, if I do say so myself.) At $3-$5 per cup for specialty coffees, and with 6 people in our household, going to a coffee shop for a treat is exactly that – a treat. It’s very rare and it’s a splurge. (If the boys want to meet friends at the coffee shop, they use their own money.)

Coffee Milkshake

2. We pack food when we travel.

We do eat out occasionally when we’re on the road, but even “cheap” fast food costs $40-$60 for our family. If it’s possible, we load up a cooler instead. When we do eat out, it’s with a purpose. (For instance, if several of the families on our basketball team are eating together after a game, we join them if we can. Relationships with these families = priceless.)

3. We have high deductible, low monthly premium healthcare coverage.

I can’t say enough good about this. Can you believe we pay only $135/month for healthcare coverage for our family of six?! It’s perfect for us since we typically go to natural doctors not covered by insurance. Saving hundreds every month on our monthly healthcare premium helps us afford groceries to keep us healthy. I am so thankful for this for so many reasons.

4. My husband’s truck is rusty.

What I mean is, we don’t have the nicest vehicles on the block. They run great, they do the job, and they are paid for. Our sons drive “grandpa cars” that they bought themselves after years of hard work and saving.

5. When we want a treat at home, we buy it at the store.

Say we want to enjoy a special family movie night or game night – something fun for the family and a break from cooking. Instead of going out to eat or getting take out, we’ll get something fun from the store. This is rare because even the $30 it costs to buy enough take-and-bake pizzas to fill us is a splurge, but at least it’s cheaper than the $60+ it costs to eat out. If we want ice cream, we’ll buy a container at the store for $3.50, which feeds us all, instead of paying that much per person at the ice cream shop.

6. Redbox all the way.

It’s got to be a really exciting, really great movie if we’re actually going to pay to see it in the theater. Sometimes the boys pay their own way if they want to see a movie with their friends. But usually, we all wait until a few weeks after a movie comes out, save at least $50 by getting the movie from Redbox for $1.50.

7. We don’t have cable.

Sometimes, we really, really wish we did (like when it’s time for the Olympics or the World Cup). But every time we check into the options and do the math, we just can’t justify the added expense every month. It’s worth a mention that we’re thankful for friends who are happy to have us join them in their living room for big games. ;)

8. Our kids don’t get a cell phone until they get their drivers license.

We’ve decided that our kids don’t really need a phone until they are driving. (They have had hand-me-down ipods before they’re 16 so they can text and keep up with their friends as long as there is wifi available.) That we’ve avoided adding our kids to our phone plan until they are 16 has saved a lot of money through the years. Though we do have a small heart attack each time we add a new driver to the household – adding him to our car insurance and cell phone bill. Yowza.

Ways we don’t hold back on spending money

As much as we spend frugally for most everything, there are a few ways we have found it’s not worth it to hold back.

1. Quality food

But we’ve been through all of this already.

groceries 411

2. Quality shoes

Nobody needs the $200 pairs. But neither have we found it worth it to compromise on good foot/ankle/back support when it comes to shoes, as our athletes will be running and jumping and cutting and sliding across the field or court. When the kids were younger, buying shoes at Walmart or Payless was just fine. But as the boys have gotten older, their athletic shoes have needed to be better. Cha-ching. I don’t really like to talk about it.

3. Giving

That comes off the top of our monthly budget, without compromise. I’d rather cut back on food spending and eat beans all day than give less than we feel God calling us to give. This is saying something because well, just think what it would be like at our house if we ate beans all day.

4. Good coffee

Look at me – beginning and ending my post by talking about coffee. While we rarely buy coffee at a shop, I really do love good quality coffee at home. Folgers just doesn’t cut it, bless its heart. I like buying coffee beans from a gal in Haiti to help support her work with boys on the street. Or I buy this one so yum.

Coming up next week: Specific food compromises I make so I can stay within budget (plus ways I will never compromise).

I’d love to hear ways you save and ways you splurge. Share your ideas and what works for your family!

Simple Overnight Melt-in-your-Mouth Beef Roast

Remember the Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken recipe I shared? That’s becoming one of my new go-to recipes to help me feed my family on busy days. This, of course, led me to experiment more with the idea. What else, I wondered, could be cooked in the crock pot overnight to make my day simpler tomorrow? Well. One result this Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast.

Simple Overnight Beef Roast

Just like the chicken, you can put your roast into your crock pot directly from the freezer. It thaws and cooks overnight. The next day, the meat will fall apart and melt in your mouth!

Why would we want to cook meat in our crock pots overnight? Let me count the ways:

  • When we wake up to cooked meat, we have something good to pack for lunches if that is a need.
  • We can turn the crock pot to the “keep warm” setting and have meat waiting for us later at lunch time at home.
  • We can turn off the crock pot and cool the meat to eat in big chef salads at lunch time.
  • We can put the meat in the fridge to pull out any time we need it during the next few days.

The concept is so simple, and it presents so many easy meal options!

Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast

Simple Overnight Melt-in-your-Mouth Beef Roast
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound beef roast
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix (recipe below)
  • ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Put roast in the bottom of a crock pot. (Roast can be frozen or thawed.)
  2. Pour Worcestershire sauce, Onion Soup Mix, and water over the roast.
  3. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

Here’s my Onion Soup Mix recipe.

Simple Overnight Melt in your Mouth Beef Roast

This roast is delicious no matter if you serve it with mashed potatoes and veggies or if you serve it in a chef salad. The flavor is incredible!!

Have you tried cooking meat in a crock pot overnight? What has your experience been like?

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

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 Parmesan Broiled Fish (10-minutes from start to finish!)

I was going to call this Simple Cheesy Fish Dish – you know – because it rhymed and was cute. But then I was like, “What a weird and not-very-appetizing name. Let’s change it to Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish. People will want to make it if it has a better name.”

broiled-parmesan-fish

I sure hope you all appreciate all the thought and trouble I go to in preparing these recipes and laboring to come up with their names. There is no end to all the decisions I have to make around here.

But in actual news, and what you really need to know about this recipe is how easy it is. You broil the fish. While it is broiling, you mix up a few ingredients to spread over the top. You spread it on. You broil it all a little longer. In ten minutes the fish is completely done and ready to serve.

Ten minutes. Maybe I should have called this Ten-Minute Fish Dish. But seriously, though.

Simple Parmesan Broiled FishYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Parmesan Broiled Fish
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fish, any kind (cod, tilapia, halibut, flounder, salmon)
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower mayo)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of hot sauce (we like Cholula)
Instructions
  1. Lay fish pieces in a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Broil for 8-10 minutes in the oven.
  3. In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Removed broiled fish from the oven and spread on the cheese mixture.
  5. Broil for an additional 2 minutes.

simple-parmesan-broiled-fish

This fish has incredible flavor! We have also found that the sauce tastes great with the steamed veggies we eat with this meal. There’s just something about cheese and butter and mayo all together that makes a great sauce. So if the sauce from your fish runs over your plate into your veggies – be grateful. The entire meal will taste better this way!

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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Hot Vanilla Milk (3 Ingredients)

Hot cocoa is wonderful. Hot tea hits the spot. I think we all know how I feel about a lovely cup of coffee. (Best thing ever, in case you weren’t sure.) But this Hot Vanilla Milk is a fun option to offer when you need a little variety in your hot drink repertoire.

vanilla-milk

If you want to make it really special, add one of the fun Flavored Whipped Cream options I shared below. As fun as it is to hit a coffee shop sometimes for a special treat, it is not fun to pay $4-$5 per cup of delicious drink. This Hot Vanilla Milk and all the other fun drink options I listed below will save us all loads of money because we can make many great hot drinks at home!

Hot Vanilla MilkYum

Hot Vanilla Milk (3 Ingredients)
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups milk (I use whole milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (give or take)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk milk and maple syrup together in a small sauce pan.
  2. Stir over low heat until milk mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Serve right away.

hot-vanilla-milk

I will now make a list for you of all the hot drink recipes I’ve shared here through the years. With this Hot Vanilla Drink recipe, there’s a hot drink for every day of the week! Plus I included a few fun add-ins to the list. Hot drinks are fun. Hot drinks with flavored whipped creams are even better!

Homemade Hot Cocoa

What are your favorite hot drinks? Do you live in a cold-weather area? My family (here in Nebraska) is doing everything we can to stay warm right now.

30 of Our Family’s Favorite Holiday Recipes (with a throw-back picture from 2007!)

I’ve shared nine years worth of holiday recipes here at Heavenly Homemakers. Nine! 

You guys. Our boys looked like this back in 2007 when my site first became a thing:

boysbytree2sm2

Now they look like this. As you can tell, we got a taller tree. (I’m sure that’s the first thing you noticed.)

family-christmas700

Isn’t that a nice picture? Yes. Of course, this one is more normal:

family-christmas-silly700

I can’t get over how quickly my boys turned into men. I was there, and now I’m here, and I’m not sure how it happened. With love, prayer, tears, and lots of green beans, no doubt.

Today I decided to share 30 of the recipes that I’ve posted through these many Christmas seasons. You can bet the recipes that used more sugar were from my earlier blogging years! Slowly but surely, we’ve cut back on sugar content in our treat recipes. Somehow, the boys have still grown and lived to tell about it.

If you come across any of these older recipes and you think, “Hmm. I wonder if I can cut the sugar down in any of these?” the answer is most likely yes! The treats will still be delicious and your family’s Christmas will still be merry.

30 of Our Family’s Favorite Holiday RecipesYum

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Peppernuts

peppernuts_9

Low Sugar Frosted Sugar Cookies

Low Sugar Frosted Sugar Cookies

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

chocolate mint mousse 3

Hot Cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Peppermint Cream Cocoa

Peppermint Cream Cocoa

White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

White Chocolate Popcorn

Cranberry Orange Scones

Orange Cranberry Scones

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn With No Corn Syrup!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Balls

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100% Juice Sparkling Punch

Christmas Brunch Punch {with 100 juice!}

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffle

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Christmas Spice Cookies

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Chocolate Snowballs

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Reindeer Cuties

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Snickerdoodles

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Coconut Macaroons

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Kiss Cookies

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Peppermint Patties

Homemade Healthier Eggnog

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men

Warm Vanilla Soother

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Sweet Pepper Fritata

Quick Eggnog Muffins

Vanilla Muffins with Crumb Topping

Strawberry Christmas Salad

Strawberry Christmas Salad
Christmas Sourdough Biscuits

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Christmas Graham Crackers

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Christmas Pizzas

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Christmas Donuts

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You’ll want to pin this so you can make these treats from now until the new year! —>

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Please leave a comment to tell me how long you’ve been reading here! Were any of you around when my boys were as little as that first Christmas picture?

Lots to Do? How to Save the Christmas Season…

Before I get started with today’s post, I wanted to show you my new, early Christmas present!

ecooe

It’s an insulated, stainless steel 34-ounce double wall French Press and I LOVE IT! It came from Ecooe, a site that has me drooling. My favorite feature of this French Press is that it keeps the hot beverage hot during our entire breakfast while it rests on the table. And of course, it’s stainless steel which makes it safe to use and beautiful to look at. The price is right, so put it on your list, or grab it early so you can use it to entertain this Christmas!

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Now let’s talk about how to save the Christmas season!

Never am I more tempted to buy Take-and-Bake Pizzas like I am during the busy holiday season. Sometimes (shh) I even consider buying Velveeta to make Rotel Dip. I know!!!! I think it’s a childhood memory thing. But also, no matter how simple I keep our holidays, there is still always more to do than a normal day in the life. Therefore, compromising in the kitchen is something I’m always more likely to do while we’re putting up the tree, wrapping gifts, or rummaging through our piles of junk to find yet one more thing to take to a White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Let us all pause for a moment to acknowledge how many white elephant gifts my family has to come up with every Christmas season now that I have a houseful of teenagers going to parties of their own. The parties are many; the need for white elephant gifts is abundant. You would think by now we’d have nothing useless or weird left in our house. Somehow we keep coming up with items to wrap and get rid of. Although at one point last year we got so desperate to figure out what to send with our oldest son to his White Elephant Gift Exchange on the college campus that we put a bow on our then 10-year old and sent them both on their way.

malachi white elephant

You thought I was kidding.

Not to worry though. After all the college students fought over this special gift, they delivered him back home safe and sound. Somehow we also accumulated a fish in a tank that night. We named him Finley and managed to keep him alive for exactly a day and a half.

finnley

So back to making food compromises and trying to survive the busy holiday season.

My solution to avoiding Velveeta? Make this dip instead. Ever since I invented this dip, I don’t even want Velveeta any more. Guaranteed, I will be making this for my family to enjoy some evening while we’re sitting around the Christmas tree playing a game. We all love this.

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

I will probably buy a few Take-and-Bake Pizzas sometime during the month to give myself a night off. The kids will eat more sugar than normal at all of their White Elephant parties and sure, probably even at our house. I’m not terribly worried about any of this because stress over food is, in my opinion, less healthy than the junk food itself. So bring on the fudge, but first please eat a carrot.

How we’re going to save the Christmas season for you

Seeing as I can’t fall back on compromise foods every single night from now until January 2 when things supposedly settle down, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make Simple Meals planning packets even simpler than normal. This is saying something, my friends!

From now until the end of the year, every meal suggestion in your Simple Meals packets will be extra easy, extra brainless, and even extra festive! This is going to help us all survive the holidays without having to stress over how we’re still going to put a good meal on the table while we’re trying to put together goody bags for the neighbors and rummage through the toy box for yet another (non broken) something or other to wrap for a White Elephant gift exchange.

Simple Meals Members? Look forward to refreshingly easy plans and ideas to simplify your holiday season! If you’re not a member yet, now is the time to get on board with us so you can enjoy this too!

Get all the details about Simple Meals here.

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Do you find yourself coming and going during the holiday season? What compromise foods do you find yourself falling back on? What have been your best scores at a White Elephant Gift Exchange?

Look forward to some amazingly fun and easy Simple Meals Planning Packets this month!!!