I thawed some frozen chicken in the fridge, you know, the way you are actually supposed to thaw something. Our thawing is generally right before we need it to cook so it goes in the microwave and it is still always a little frozen on the inside but the outside starts to cook so what are you going to do??

Anyways, 3 frozen chicken breasts are PERFECT when they are just set in the fridge for 3 days. And you would think, with me meal planning and all, I would know which meats I needed and pull them out ahead of time. Nope! Not there yet. After eating this chicken, I will be doing my best to make sure my meat is thawed properly-- what a difference it made.

I have to make a confession. Keenan and I are not the best chicken cookers. Really. I mean, we can cook it and eat it just fine. Just more times than not, its overcooked, too-dry or not as flavorful as we expected when we took that first anticipated bite. We have tried so many things. Grilling, broiling, baking, pan-cooking and it was always lack-luster. Until Wednesday night. I wish I had pictures of the final product but then again, your welcome, because after seeing it, you would seriously have to leave your computer right now and go make it.

I didn't even do anything that special. We just thawed the meat (correctly!), I coated the outside in eggs (I just beat 1 egg), then coated in Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and cooked in a pan that had some heated olive oil in it. Seriously, thats it! I think the breadcrumbs were key. And I turned the chicken and took it out at the perfect time! Barely cooked- SO juicy. When we ate dinner that night.....wow! I wish I remembered to time each side but I didn't. I will replicate soon and maybe I can remember that part of it!

I also realized that I posted about our meal planning but I never really posted the plan. As you know, it is subject to change, but here goes:

Monday- chicken & beef tacos (using my homemade taco seasoning- so good!)
fresh salsa (using many BB ingredients)
homemade tortilla chips (so easy!)

Tuesday- BBQ (boston butt with some other things in a crockpot!)
grilled corn (already made, just pull out and reheat)
roasted broccoli (best broccoli ever- thanks Diana!)
**with VERY dry broccoli, sprinkle some garlic salt on, roast at 450 for 15
minutes, after it comes out, sprinkle some lemon juice on and then some
grated parm cheese

Wednesday- pork chops and pears (pull chops from freezer and pears are from BB)
twice baked potatoes (from BB!)

I am out of town so Keenan will have leftovers and some things that are frozen right now (chicken and sweet potato stew probs) so thats all I have to plan for this week. Not too bad!

I think I want to make one of those cool weekly menu boards to hang in the kitchen. Maybe that will be my next project....and hopefully I will remember to take lots of pictures!

Yesterday was epic. I have been looking forward to craft day for about 2 months. From the moment Diana announced it at church. And it finally happened yesterday! Now, I just hope we do another one....and soon! Mary and Diana (2 ladies from church) had it on their hearts to get all the women from our church together (ie- different generations together) so we could build relationships, hang out, bond, etc. They decided it would be done through crafting- yeah!

Mary hosted the event (and what a generous host!) and Diana put everything together and organized the event-- one of her many strengths. All we had to do was show up and have fun and maybe bring our own crafts if we wanted to do something other than what they had set up. And they had SO MUCH set up. They had a stamping area where you could make your own cards- I think there may have been more stamps than Hobby Lobby's stamp aisle, for real! Mary had also purchased TONS of knitting needles and yarn--- and each person got to keep their needles and yarn. So kind and generous.

We started the morning off with a crockpot demo that would end up being our lunch. So. Good. Then, the knitting lessons followed. And lots of fellowshipping. LOTS. It was amazing. A little while later, Mary did a breadmaking demo. Then, a whole group of people went to the Granary and bought bread making supplies. I stayed at the house to work on crafting but I will definitely be going to the Granary soon!

There were a few reasons I was so excited for this weekend. First, who wouldn't be excited about getting to hang out with awesome ladies and fellowship? I also have one of my best friends come up and stay this weekend and come to craft day. Yeah Bobbie! And, I have been planning what I wanted to get done on this day for quite some time. I am trying, little by little, to make some decorating changes in our casa. So, where did I decide to start? The laundry room! I have been wanted to make some curtains to go over the shelves that hang above the washer and dryer. Here is a before picture of the laundry room:

I really love our laundry room. Behind where I am taking this picture from is a shelf where I keep my stockpile. I just love how big it is. I know some people have full size rooms as a laundry room but this one is just perfect for where we live. This room really makes me happy, is that weird? And no, it doesn't always look like this. Normally there are piles of clothes that I have folded (and not put away) on the dryer. And there is a pile of clothes for the cleaners also. When I have more guts, I will put on a real picture of our laundry room. Just not there yet, sorry!

When Bobbie got up here this weekend, we headed to Jo-Ann's to get some fabric to use to make a curtain to go over the shelves. I found some on sale, figured out how much I needed (I was going to have to make 2 panels) and took that to craft day. I sewed a few things on craft day. The pictures Diana took of me (thanks Diana!) are of working on my quilt. I needed to get the binding on- now I need to handstitch the back. I will get there.

After I finished the binding, I got to work on my curtains. Got my fabric out and began making my cuts (after I measured of course). But, as luck would have it- I cut something wrong. I had my cutting board turned the wrong way and I needed 47" in length so I used to cutting board to do 18", 18", then 11"- then cut there. Didn't realize I was actually doing 12", 12", 11". After I cut it, I though there is NO way that is going to cover the shelves. Then, I realized my mistake- oops! I cut the next panel correctly and had to figure out how to fix my mistake. I didn't have enough to do a whole new panel and I couldn't go buy more fabric. I had just enough in our household fund (envelope!) to cover the fabric and a tension/shower rod. So, I cut another 12 1/2" to make them the same length. If you are adding it, it would make the new panel 1/2" longer but that is because when I stitched the two together, I used a 1/4" seam.

Anyways, stiched them and I can hardly tell they are two pieces. Yeah! I am really glad it worked out and next time, I will double and triple check my cutting board. I am used to making small cuts for quilt pieces, so using it like this was new for me.

I made the 2 panels, stitched up the sides and bottom, then made a 3" fold-over for the rod to go through. After craft day, Bobbie and I headed to the store to get a rod. When we got home, I tried it out and its looks SO GOOD!!!! Here are some after shots of the laundry room:

I am very happy with how it turned out and now my laundry room makes me even happier! Our bathroom is painted a creamy purple color and that color is in the fabric a little too. So excited with how it turned out.

After I made my curtains, I helped Bobbie sew a few more quilt squares (wish I had gotten some pics now!) and then we headed out. Craft day was SO much fun and I really hope we have one soon. Mary thought maybe a spring one and we could learn about gardening and such, but I kind of hope we have one sooner-- maybe next weekend??? Who's up for that?

My bread-making tales begin somewhere around February of 2010. Lori (my mother-in-law) had bought a Cuisinart breadmaker at Costco and told me about all the bread she had been making with it. I thought that was so cool. Then, soon after that, she gifted me one of my very own. I was in the middle of undergoing chemotherapy (month 4 of 6) and was unable to work during this time. While I still had some energy and desire to not just lay in bed all day (I had to stop work because I worked with 4-5 year olds--- ie, germ machines which would lead to infection), she thought I may enjoy making bread. And was she ever right. I made all kinds of bread-- french, italian, whole wheat, cinnamon swirl-- it was so fun. I was really good at the cinnamon swirl, french and italian. The others just didn't come out very well. They would be too dense, or the things that were supposed to be mixed in only got mixed into half of the loaf. Anyways, lots of good bread baking still!

I should also put in here- Keenan likes his bread. I mean, really likes his bread. It is one of those things that we would splurge on-- nice, Publix, bakery bread. When I started baking our bread, the crusty french bread was my best loaf, but it just was not very sandwich friendly. It was great for dipping in oil and spices but even after I got an electric knife and would do a small or medium loaf, we still had sandwiches that were really bread-y. So, I would just make an open face sandwich but after a while, the bread making became less and less. I would make it occasionally, especially if we needed a big loaf for dipping, but we were mostly back to buying our bread at Publix-- and there are rarely sales on their bakery bread. I loved the bread machine, but we were just using it less and less. It eventually even got bumped on the counter. We have very limited space, so if I am not using an appliance much, it goes on top of the fridge. Sad, I know-- its lonely up there, but what else can I do???

Fast forward about 2 years. For Christmas this past year, my mom decided to arrange a session with her friend Kathie-- the expert bread baker. I think my mom remembered me talking about baking bread all the time. I thought it was super nice of my mom but I kept thinking in the back of my head...I probably still won't bake much bread after it.....but boy, was I ever wrong!!! My mom kept telling me that Kathie just uses her bread machine to mix the ingredients and do some of the rising then she takes it out, shapes, maybe lets it rise again and then bakes it. I thought- that sounds like a whole lot of work just for some bread. I had no idea what was coming. Here I was, a simple, giant-squared bread baker and there was this whole other world out there, full of delicious bread, loaves, rolls--- I just didn't know it existed. Well, thats not fair, I knew you could make all those things, but I had NO IDEA how simple it was.

Over Christmas break (we were in Cartersville this year), my mom and I went out to Kathie's house to learn the art of bread baking. I was still a skeptic here. She had already started some bread in her machine and it was ready for the next step, she had another loaf mixing in there and we were about to make tortillas. That's right, tortillas!!! Over the next 4 hours, I just tried as best I could to keep my mouth closed, between being shocked at how easy it really was and trying not to stuff all the delicious bread into my mouth the moment it came out of the oven. Kathie even grinds her own flour. She has an excellent grinder and gets her wheat in giant tubs that she keeps in her pantry. When she wants to bake a loaf, she just grinds what she needs (it was so easy, just pour grains into the top and it comes out flour) and uses it in her recipe. One day......

We made french bread loaves (that look like long loaves of bread, not the giant square ones the bread machine makes), rolls, knot rolls (what I show you how to make below), and tortillas. Currently, I am saving up to buy some of the french loaf pans and eventually a tortillas press (also cooks them). Maybe one day I will get a grinder. But I was talking to my mom about it and I would need to find a supply of grain somewhere closer because Kathie gets hers in Woodstock. I don't want to have to rely on driving that far if I run out. I know the tub lasts forever, but before I invest in a grinder, I need a more local source of wheat, so if any of you know of one closer to Athens, let me know!!!

Here are the knot rolls that I make once a week now. They are delicious! We use them as rolls, bread for sandwiches, everything! The recipe is below all of this if you need to see it without the pics! Thanks to Kathie for letting me share your amazing recipe.

Potluck Pan Rolls
3/4 c water
1/4 c suger
1 egg
1/4 c butter or margarine (I use butter)
2 tbsp. instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 tsp salt
3 c plus 1 tbsp bread flour
package active dry yeast (I measured a pack out because I buy a jar of yeast and its about 1 1/2 tsp. per package)

Combine all ingredients in bread maker- in order above. Make a little indention in the flour for the yeast. That way, it doesn't activate in the water too quickly. **This is where my version is a little different than Kathie's because of my breadmaker. Look to the end of this post for standard recipe. If you have the Cuisinart bread maker, just do what I do.**

After I combine all the ingredients, I set mine on a medium (1.5lb) size loaf, white bread setting and begin. The time reads 3:18 til finished. There is a series of beeps throughout the cycles. The first set (of 5) comes pretty soon and it means if you want to mix anything in (seeds, nuts, etc) that is the time. I do not mix anything, so I just ignore this set. Then, my machine is quiet. It will go through 2 rise cycles. Then, somewhere around 2:10 or so, I hear a little more mixing (just a few times) and I know I have a little longer before I need to pull it out. At this point, I will turn my oven on to 150. After my light goes off indicating the oven is warm, I turn it off. I want it just warm enough to let the bread rise in a little while- not cook it.

At 1:43, the machine will do its next set of beeps- 6 this time. The purpose is so I can pull it out, pull the paddle out, reshape before it begins baking. At this point, I am done with my machine. I prepare 2 corningware dishes (my casserole and square ones) by spraying it with cooking spray. I also spray a plate that I will use for separating and shaping rolls in a moment. Kathie taught me to do this instead of flouring because the flour dries the dough out so much. I will pull dough out and set it on the plate. Then, using my hands, I will divide in half, then continue dividing in half until I have 16 rolls. This is what it looks like:

I think the make real bread/dough dividers, but I just eyeball it. Yes, one or two rolls will come out really big and one or two rolls will come out small, but it doesn't bother us! After I have 16 balls, I will take each roll, and roll it like a snake:

Then, I will tie it in a knot like this:

Press the two ends of the snake together REALLY well, otherwise when it is rising, they will pop off and you will have a funny looking knot with an end sticking straight up. Yeah, its pretty funny looking. It has happened some here, but we are not ashamed, we eat them just as quickly as the others! Once you have pressed the ends together, move that part to the bottom so you just see the knot part at the top.

Then, set it in your pan.

Do all 16 of them. I try to let my biggest ones go in the corners of my square pan and put a smaller one in the middle.

Then, put syran wrap on top of each pan and put in the oven (that was preheated and turned off, so its just warm now) for 45 minutes. The will double in size.



Lets take a moment and talk about my box of syran wrap. I know the picture in your head but you're probably wrong. Look at my amazing box of syran wrap--- it will last me FOREVER!!!! Jealous, I know!

So, after you have taken the rolls out, pre-heat your oven to 375. Take the syran wrap off. When the oven is preheated, stick both pans in. I set my timer for 14 minutes. When it goes off, I just take the square pan off the top rack. They look like this:

But, the other pan looks like this:

I give them 2-3 more minutes in the oven. Normally, 3 more minutes. Then, I take them out, let them cool and bag them up. Here they all are:

Is your mouth watering yet? Kathie has some really nice bags (I think they are ULine bags??)-- here they are:

I have found that we are eating them so quickly that the food and bread storage bags (Kroger brand) work just fine.

Here are all our rolls bagged up:

Maybe if I was giving them out as a present I would use some nicer bags, but if its just for us, the cheap ones work just fine. So, I hope you try some rolls, they are so easy. If you don't want to knot them, use the same recipe and just make regular rolls. You can also sprinkle some poppyseeds or toasted sesame seeds to make buns. I have done that-- they look so nice! Let me know if you try them! I love them and have not bought any bread since Christmas. I just make some rolls each weekend and we are loving it. Keenan really enjoys them too!! My next plan is to head to the store and price each ingredient and really come up with how much one loaf of bread costs. I would like to really know how much I am saving. If I were to grind I own wheat, I would save even more, but that's another day!!!


Kathie's recipe for rolls (follow my pics if you want to make them knots and my directions and pics are specific to my bread machine, you will have to figure out exactly which setting works best for you)-


3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp. instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups plus 1 tbsp bread flour
Package active dry yeast (I have found it to be about 1 1/2 tsp if you are measuring from a jar)

Combine all ingredients in bread maker, starting with water and ending with yeast (make an indentation in the flour to put yeast in). Set bread maker on dough setting. When dough cycle is complete remove dough from pan onto a dinner plate sprayed with cooking spray. (You may need to spray hands.) Divide dough into 16 equal balls. Place in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake at 375 degrees for 17-20 minutes. Rolls brown better on bottom if you use a non insulated pan.

At some point we have to stop pinning things on Pinterest, right? Yeah, I can't stop either. I know there was a time in my life that the majority of my sentences did not start with "I saw on pinterest..."-- I just can't seem to remember it. Sometime around all those new year resolutions that were floating around, I decided I needed to do something about my pins. (If you are not familiar with pinterest, you should be-- you should go check it out now!) I could just keep pinning, or I could step up and do something. I think a lot of people think I am pretty crafty, DIY yourself-y, but really, most of the things I do are because someone helped me get started. I don't normally just look at a blog or pin and just go out and do it. I can sew and quilt because I had help and I can bake bread now because I had help. I am pretty good at picking up on things if someone else is showing me. Its different when I am just trying to read and follow directions-- I can't ask questions and my steps never look like their steps. But, enough is enough. I had SO MANY PINS on my boards that I told myself-- for every 10 pins, I have to try something. And so I did! I just had to get the guts up to JUST DO IT!!!!

I remembered seeing a pin for DIY laundry soap and a teacher friend of mine told me that was what one of her relatives gave everyone in the family for Christmas (by the way, any of my family reading this-- I am officially calling it right now! haha!) and she really liked it. I got onto Pinterest that day to find (remember, lots of pins) the correct pin and I happened across a different recipe that my friend April had pinned and she had either commented there or on facebook that she had tried it and loved it. So, this recipe looked way easier than the one I had been looking for AND it came with a recommendation. So, I went to the blog that had originally posted it and it really did look easy. Off to the store I went to make my soap. In the blog, she even updated to say that her batch lasted her 9 months. And, she said she was using twice as much as she really needed to. Wow!

I made the soap 2 weeks ago and of course, did not take pics of the process. Her blog shows some pics. I really just followed her directions. Here is what I bought at the store:
-big box of baking soda (baking aisle)
-big box of washing soda (laundry aisle)
-2 kroger brand oxy-clean containers (laundry aisle)
-big box of Borax (laundry aisle)
-3 bars of Fels-Naptha (laundry aisle, but on the other side of all the detergent-- I think mine was near the stain products)

Total spent: $19.63 (before tax)

I coupon and I know a lot of you do it. As I see one of the ingredients on sale in the next year, I will pick it up. Only the oxy-clean was store brand and none of it was on sale. (I know, I can't believe I was able to buy something at full price---but it will still save me money)

I used a 5 gallon bucket, but only to mix. I put a garbage bag inside and mixed in that. I poured all ingredients in and used my hands to mix. It did take about 45 minutes to grate the soap bars, but I have an old school flat grater and was a little nervous about using my process (I think she used it on her blog). But, I was watching 2 episodes of the Office, so it didn't seem that painful!

Mixed it all together and that's it. The grated soap bar will stay in pieces while the rest of it mixes up, so it will look like this after you mix it all together:

Transferred it to these containers-- it doesn't make that much. But if it is too much for you to store, split with someone, or make a batch and just give some away! Here is how I am storing it:

The silver spoon on top of the canister is approximately a tablespoon, so I just put 2 of them in each load. I am currently washing my fourth load with it-- and love it! I still put fabric softener in most loads but hey, maybe I can find a DIY softener soon!

Official Verdict: Its awesome! Its easy! And saves me LOTS of money!!! (This is even coming from a girl who loves her Tide.)

Let me know if you try it sometime and thanks April for pinning it! So glad I tried it-- not so nervous trying things from the internet anymore!!

Last week, I posted my picture of my produce basket and I cannot wait to see what I get in my basket tomorrow!!! Two weeks ago (I guess three now) I got cabbage in my basket. So, it sat in my fridge for over a week because all I could think was...I don't want boiled cabbage and I don't like coleslaw....but then I stumbled across a recipe for Bierocks and thought they looked incredible. So, I made them on Sunday to take to church. Oh. My. Gosh. They were so good. And if you don't believe me, the amount of time they spent on the table will tell you--gone in about 4 minutes. Really. I had to half mine with someone even. Remember my meal planning efforts. Well, I saved about 6 of the pockets for our dinner on Monday night, but Keen wanted one before church (and I wanted to make sure they were edible, so I let him have one!)- down to 5. When we got home, he warmed up 3- 2 for him and 1 for me (remember I only halved one at church!!)- so if you are keeping count. Down to 2. Instead of trying to make them last till dinner the next night, we each took one for lunch. Guess what we had for dinner?? I wanted to write eggs and pancakes, but that would be a lie. I bumped another meal, but guess what we ate on Thursday night?? Scrambled eggs- yeah.

Here is the recipe for the Bierocks. I decided it was a weekend meal- too much prep to ever do during the week. Also, overall not much time in actual labor, it was just lots of steps, then waiting for an hour, or two, or thirty minutes. It took me much longer, but that's because I had to figure out my food processor. I know, I've had it for how long. I couldn't even figure out how to get the pushy thing off so I could get more cabbage in there. Really. As I went to clean it, I thought I broke a piece but turns out, it was a little push lever to get the pushy thing off. By pushy thing, I mean that part that goes up and down and you use to "push" the food down when shredding. I'm sure it has a name and I bet you all know it but I would have to go look at the manual to see it and believe me, I looked through that thing about 100 times on Saturday. So- pushy thing. Needless to say, some of these steps took way longer than they should have. I also didn't think to take some pics until I was already putting filling in the pockets. I can describe what I did and then add my pics in when they are relevant:

Made the dough according to directions (ps- if you are like me and have a jar of yeast because you make your own bread, 1 yeast packet is about 1 1/2 tsp. of yeast). I even used my Kitchen Aid mixer-- yeah, probs the 5th use for that big guy. After this last weekend, there will be a lot more use for the Kitchen Aid and the food processor- we're friends now.

So, made my dough, put in fridge for 2 hours. As I was getting ready for the next step, I noticed that I also could have let it rise for 1 hour- so would have taken that route. Guess I should read directions better next time. Cooked the beef, shredded (through a tiny little whole) cabbage, carrot and onion. I actually pureed the onion first on accident- then proceeded to cry for the next 20 minutes as I continued with the rest of the recipe because there was literally, onion-ness everywhere. Apparently, that's what happens when you puree an onion. Lesson learned. (On a side note, I have an awesome tool for slicing/dicing onions, hear its similar to a mandolin- BUT- if you cut an onion in half, put in the fridge for 10 minutes, then remove to cut, its way less pungent. It works. I have to do everything I can.)

Ok, brown meat, add veggies and some salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. It will look like this:

As you can see, I had already started making some pockets before I remembered to grab my awesome camera. I had taken the dough and just grabbed to make dough balls- I got 18 balls. Then I would flatten them out, put some of the filling in and press the edges together so they look like this:

Then I just had to bake them:

Here is what they looked like when they came out of the oven:

Yum!!!!! So good. And I made a new friend during the process. He even has his own spot on the counter now.

Glad I made them-- maybe if you end up with a head of cabbage you don't have to have boiled cabbage either....unless you really like that, of course!