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Stoney's Crew: Monday's Menu & Meatloaf

Well it is that day of the week once again when I put pen to paper and write down the menu for the week. It is also Monday and Stoney likes Meatloaf on Mondays...yep, he says it makes him bowl better. I don't know about that, but I am going to give you a recipe for a tasty rendition of meatloaf that includes veggies in its mixture. It is a great way to have your kids get extra servings of vegetables and the carrots flavor the meatloaf just the right amount. I have also used this recipe for meatballs.

Stoney's Crew Meatloaf
1 pound Ground Beef
2 carrots ground
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 eggs

I use homemade croutons and grind them in the food processor for the breadcrumbs. Enough to get about a cup of crumbs. I then grind the carrots and onion in the food processor using the same blade. Add to ground beef. Add 2 eggs and mix thoroughly. Salt & Pepper to taste. Sometimes if I have other veggies that need to be used (green peppers, celery, eggplant, etc.) I will throw that in the food processor and add to the mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

This makes 1 family size meatloaf. Because it is just Stoney & me here at the lab these days, I divide the meatloaf in 2 and wrap and freeze the other half for another meal in a week or two.

Tonight I also baked potatoes with the meatloaf. Two potatoes for our meal plus 3 more for use in recipes later in the week. While the oven is on, making more than just a couple of potatoes is an easy way to prep for future meals. Baking extra potatoes to make Potato Salad are fabulous! Hey, if the oven is on and not full, you might as well take advantage of the open space!

I will be making a Fritata on Wednesday using the extra baked potatoes for a meatless meal option. I'll report the results on Thursday.

Here is the game plan for the week

Monday, February 22: Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans
Tuesday, February 23: Buffet de Lefto-Vairs, Salad
Wednesday, February 24: Fritata, Salad
Thursday, February 25: Scalped Taters w/Ham (didn't make Saturday), Salad
Friday, February 26: ??? Mystery night--in case The Kid comes home
Saturday, February 27: Vancouver Olympics Surprise, Salad
Sunday, February 28: Chicken & Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

More menu ideas can be found at Have you checked out "The Frugal Girls" yet. I have also become a fan on Facebook. It is a fun way to keep up with free offers, coupons, and bargain pricing.

Is anyone else beginning to get addicted to the Curling competition in the Olympics? I firmly believe that I may actually fully understand the premise of the game by the 2012 games...I can imagine it now...a Curling Channel on TV!


Stoney's Crew: Oriental Chicken Salad

Have you been watching the Olympics? I certainly hope so, they have been fantastic. Lots of medals and lots of spell-binding moments. Doesn't that half pipe look like fun? or should I say "EPIC" to quote on of the boarders!

As promised, the Stoney's Lab attempted the Oriental Chicken Salad, a favorite from Applebee's. The recipe I used was from (#19253). I did, of course, make some edits on the chicken prep.

The Salad
Lettuce, shredded
Red Cabbage, shredded
Roasted Almond Pieces (from bulk food store)
Chow Mein Noodles
Chopped Green Onion
Diced Yellow Pepper (I happened to score 3 for 50 cents in the produce clearance section)
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (Feta would have been good too.)
Grilled Diced Chicken

Rather than frying breaded chicken breasts, I opted for grilling them. I did create my own marinade that worked well. For 2 (half size) chicken breasts, I used 1-1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of dried minced onion, 1/8 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar. I put in a ZipLock with the chicken and marinated in the fridge about 2-1/2 hours. I then grilled (it is winter, so it was in a skillet this time.) It was tasty!

The Salad Dressing Recipe:
3 tablespoons Honey
1-1/2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
1/8 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Overall Stoney's Crew Rating
Stoney and I both tasted the salad dressing on a piece of lettuce before putting on our salads. Yep, we are cautious. We did this because the dressing did not look as white as the salad dressing in the restaurant and when I was going through the lists of ingredients, the mustard was not anticipated by me, because it is not a flavor I taste in the restaurant.

We both like Honey Mustard Dressing but we were disappointed in this recipe of it. I gave it a pass I went with Stoney's Crew Simply The Best Salad Dressing and Stoney opted out of the program to Ranch Dressing.

The Salad basics and the Chicken prepped this way were both great. Cabbage is an interesting foil for the normal lettuce and I would make that combo again, especially with the chicken...I cannot wait until this spring when the grill will no longer be covered by snow! It will be a great evening salad meal.

This does mean tho, I am still on the hunt for the salad dressing recipe!


Stoney's Crew: Tortellini Al Forno

The Stoney's Crew Italian sauce I make for Tortellini can also be used for other pastas such as shells (like Casa's Con Quatro Formaggi) or vermicelli (wide spaghetti noodles.) We just happen to like Tortellini for a special treat and it reminds us of a fabulous dish at Papa Vino's. You can buy premade Tortellini in the dairy section of the grocery, but I have discovered that in our local Wal-Mart frozen food section (look for the sign PASTA) bags frozen for about 1/2 the you know where I pick it up. A bag of the frozen, says it serves 5. Since the sauce is so rich, we can usually get at least 6. I see no reason why you couldn't use the frozen cheese ravioli for this as well.
In a lot of ways, this is a "when you see the whites of their eyes" recipe. Organization is key. Have the side salads all made up and in the fridge ready to go. Before beginning the first step in the sauce pan set a pot of water on another burner and begin heating. (I cover and turn to high.)

In your skillet, pour a trip (or 2) around the pan of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 3 (at least) cloves of minced garlic and lightly begin a saute.

Add 8 oz of sliced fresh mushrooms to the pot. Let saute lightly. When the mushrooms are cooked you can add a sprinkle of pepper. Don't add salt, it will dry out the mushrooms.

Make a roux...I do this by tipping my skillet up on the burner cover behind the burner I am working on and pushing all of the mushrooms and garlic to the top. In this instance I used 3 tablespoons of butter and about 3 tablespoons of flour over the heat. Using a whisk, work the flour and butter together to cook the flour (it will be very lightly golden brown in color.)

Now add 2 cups cream, half and half, or milk. You could mix half cream and half skim milk too, that works. On low heat, mix together the roux, cream, and mushrooms.

Simmer until reduced to the consistency that it will coat the back of a spoon. Sprinkle in about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg (Just enough to "track a rabbit".)

Add about 2 cups your favorite shredded cheese. For this, I have used Mozzarella, "Italian Blend" and even cheddar. Whatever I have that was on sale that week, but to keep it a "white cheese sauce" use Mozzarella or "Italian Blend". Stirring with your whisk, add about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and for a bit of tang I add about 2 tablespoons of crumbled Feta (Feta is optional, I always have because we like it on our salads.)

Your sauce is now basically ready, turn to low and keep an eye on it. When you "see the whites of their eyes" (actually it is when I hear the garage door opening signaling that Stoney is home) put the pasta of your choice (in this case Tortellini) into the boiling water and cook no longer than 5 minutes. (5 minutes is usually "al dente," cooking pasta longer doubles the glycemic index--making it the same as eating sugar to your body)

If your sauce starts to get too "stiff" you can ladle in some of the hot water from your pasta pot to thin it back down. This can be repeated as needed. When the pasta is ready drain and add to the sauce.

You have just created a magnifique pasta dish that is ready to serve.

Instead of mushrooms, you could brown ground sausage (whatever flavor you like); chicken (cubed), or green, red, and/or yellow peppers, garden veggies such as broccoli, zucchini and squash would work too.

The salad?
In true Papa Vino form, use the Simply the Best Salad Dressing, 1/8 a head of lettuce per serving, along with other fresh vegetables of your choice, such as tomatoes, onion, peppers, olives, and 2 teaspoons of Feta cheese and homemade croutons. The croutons are nothing more than stale bread that I have cubed and baked in the oven until toasted. (Added benefit to using stale bread to make croutons? it warms up the kitchen!) I don't bother seasoning the croutons...I zing them through the food processor to make meatloaf, meatballs, or other recipes. The toasted flavor adds a nice nutty background and it is cheaper than buying breadcrumbs. I store them in a ZipLock bag.

Special Occasion? Don't forget to have warm rolls, bread sticks or garlic bread!


Stoney's Crew: The Week of To Do's and To Don'ts!

This week is a solid week of busy, and I am feelin' the need for spring weather...this morning I felt someone staring at me and when I looked out the window a cardinal was looking in at me...I could have sworn he said he was tired of the snow too, but he was more likely telling me that the bird feeder was empty!

On Tuesday, I will be providing a recipe and instructions on making Tortellini Al Forno. Since Lent starts this week, I thought perhaps some of you would be interested in a meatless recipe for the season, and please don't chide me, I know it is not the lowest fat option out there, but it tastes soooo much like Casa's Con Quatro Formagi or Papa Vino's Tri-Color Tortellini that it is hard to say no. Thursday in the lab I will be making Oriental Chicken Salad that is supposed to taste just like Applebee's I will report back results on Friday.

On to the tasks at's that time of the week...drum roll please! Menu Plan Monday.

Here at Stoney's Crew we will be dining on:
Monday, 2/15: Buffet du Lefto Vair! (This happens when you make a big pan of Lasagna for your sweetheart and yes, I said that outloud with a cheezy faux French accent.)
Fat Tuesday, 2/16: Beef Enchiladas, Salad
Ash Wednesday, 2/17: Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, Salad
Thursday, 2/18: Oriental Chicken Salad (I am trying for something like Applebee's)
Friday, 2/19: Tortellini Al Forno (I am going to post this recipe on Tuesday, since it is a meatless dish.) and Salad
Saturday, 2/20: Scalloped Potatoes (Scalped Taters) w/Ham or Smoked Sausage TBD, Salad
Sunday, 2/21: Homemade Pizza, unless I get a better offer?

Although it seems like a light week in the Stoney's Crew Lab, I will be busy making and freezing another chicken and stock and have planned an adventure or two if the weather cooperates.


Stoney's Crew: The Price of a Chicken in Every Pot!

Well, I have run the numbers every which way I can think of and still cannot figure out how to come up with the costs of the stock made from that I'll call it FREE as a by-product of my original quest of chicken.

Yield and Cost:
This is what I have come up with as the yield and the costs of that bird:
13 cups of Chicken meat
4 quarts of stock

Broken down, that is 50 cents per cup of chicken or $1.00 for most recipes. The cost of a 10-12 oz can of chicken meat is about $2.50, so I believe I saved $1.50 for each recipe.

The cost per servings:

$6.50 divided by 34 (including noodles without meat meal) 19 cents a serving.

Exclude the Noodles meatless meal and it is 22 cents per serving.

And, no, that does not include the ingredients to make the meals or the meals themselves. But I have to say...that bird was cheaper per recipe than a can of tuna would have been!

This is the best per total meal cost (includes ingredients, side salad at 25 cents and a veggie or starch in most cases) that I could come up with. I am not an accountant folks, so bear with me!

Plain Chicken with salad, vegetable & potato (round 1) 90 cents per serving
Enchiladas with salad and rice $1.07 per serving
Subs with salad and green beans $1.25 per serving
Chicken Pizza (The FLOP!) was a jaw dropping $2.88 waste per serving (saw that one coming a mile away!)
Chicken Noodle Casserole served with a side salad was $1.88 per serving
Egg Rolls with Fried Rice was 90 cents per serving
White Chicken Chili with side salad was $1.15 per serving
The healing Chicken and Noodles (used stock only was) less than 40 cents to make the Noodles from scratch if you call the stock free.

There you have it. My number crunching efforts...I snagged another chicken this week for 98 cents a pound, slightly higher initial investment, but if I get the minimum 13 cups of meat then I am still ahead with a cost per cup of 55 cents a cup! Don't worry, this week's chicken is being divided like normal in 2 cup portions and put in the freezer for retreval as needed...although I am trying to convince myself to make a huge batch of egg rolls and stash soooo, we will have to see what I decide in the morning of the bone pickin'!

BTW, I used the last of the Cream of Mushroom Soup (1 pint) last night for Swiss Steak Recipe...oh, and yeah it was good!


Stoney's Crew: Egg Rolls & Fried Rice!

I have used the last little bit of chicken from last week's adventure (approximately 2 cups) I still have a quart (+ or -) and a pint of Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup yet, but I have now used the last of the meat! How you ask? Egg Rolls! Sometimes I would have used the chicken in the Fried Rice, but this way you get a 2 fer!

Stoney's Crew Egg Rolls
2 cups cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
2 stalks of celery diced
1 small onion finely diced
1/2 can water chestnut (drained) chopped
Egg Roll Wrappers (usually found in the produce section, I used the large size)
3 eggs
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix the chicken, celery, onion, water chestnut and 2-1/2 eggs in a bowl...Reserve the 1/2 egg for the seal on the wrap.

Place mixture on egg roll wrapper and...

Wrap! Yes, I used the same wrapping style for the Enchiladas I made last week.

Nine Egg Rolls all in a row! (I could have gotten 10, if I had planned ahead!)

Bring small amount of vegetable oil (enough to be 1/2 up the egg rolls while cooking) in a pan up to high heat. You could use a Fry Daddy or similar fryer if you have one.

Fry until just golden brown. Place on clean cookie sheet and finish cooking and keep warm in warm oven. I have baked in warm oven; but the color isn't as pretty!

Some folks will add other veggies (shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and such), but this seems to be the way that we like them best here at Stoney's Crew.

I have made these ahead and frozen by using a full chicken's(s') meat--one of the fastest ways to do this for a party is to buy plain Rotissere Chickens from your local deli. It will cut down on your prep time if you are in a hurry. Extra Egg Roll Wrappers? Fill them with Taco Meat & shredded cheese and fry as above. You can also make a Crab Ragoon with the wrappers. YUM!

Stoney's Crew Fried Rice
2-3 cups of cooked rice
5 eggs beaten
1 cup diced ham (use leftovers when you can!)
Chopped green onion
Soy Sauce to taste

Scramble eggs in lightly oiled skillet (with pepper if desired--the ham and soy sauce will have a lot of salt, so I don't add any here). Use a whisk to make them fluffy while cooking. Add ham, green onion. Move to one side of skillet. In the other half of skillet add just a bit of oil and spoon plain rice into corner, stir to heat it through.

Once the rice is "fried" mix with the ingredients on the other side of the skillet. Add soy sauce to taste. Fried Rice is ready!

If you want you could add a cup of frozen peas and/or carrots to the ham, egg, onion mixture and warm through. Some also like to add a can of thoroughly rinsed Chinese vegetables. Stoney's Crew likes it best as above. This can easily be doubled or tripled and frozen for future use.

Stoney's Crew Perfect Rice Every Time
1-1/3 cup White Unconverted Rice
Rinse rice in a strainer with cold water thoroughly
Place rice in a 2 quart sauce pan add 2-1/3 cup COLD water
Bring to BOIL; lower heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
Let the rice stand without heat for an additional 20 minutes and when you lift the lid you will have perfect rice every time! Rice can be refrigerated or used immediately.

I now have a microwave rice cooker that I use; but the premise is the same. Rinse, (ratio for mine is 2 cups rice, 4 cups cold water) cook 20 minutes, let sit 20 minutes.

Chicken Meal Count: +5 (2 each) bringing the total to 34 meals! The remainder stock will be used shortly; but I am not sure that it will make a full meal to add to this count. The Cream of Mushroom Soup I am thinking of using in Friday's meal, so stay tuned. Tomorrow, I will provide the cost breakdowns for each meal from this bird and you will be surprised!

Visit Balancing Beauty & Bedlam for Tasty Tuesday's Recipes!


Stoney's Crew: Post Super Bowl Leftovers

Who says that leftovers have to appear the same way in the repeat? Over the weekend I made a huge batch of Spanish Sloppy Joe at Stoney's Crew. Stoney and The Kid each ate 3 huge sandwiches on Saturday--and we are talking HUGE! That aside, there were some leftovers from the batch...according to Stoney, "Enough for a couple more sandwiches." His size sandwich? Yes. So what do I do with that and the leftover cheese plate? Let's make the sauce first and then find out! (Oh, and yeah, the buns are all gone!)

Spanish Sloppy Joe
2# Ground beef, browned and drained
2 large onions chopped
1 teaspon salt
2-1/2 cups water
2-1/2 cups Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder (at least, we like a bit more!)
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Chop onion and mix with ground beef. Add remaining ingredients, simmer for 3 hours on top of stove. Stir often. (You could also use the Crock Pot.)

This is amazing as a sandwich on its own or on a hot dog to make Spanish Hot Dogs (Coney Island Dogs) like at the root beer stand.

Leftovers, Only Different!

On Monday, I used a can of Refigerator Biscuits and flattened into a muffin tins (1 each muffin cup) and spooned in a couple of spoonsful of leftover Sloppy Joe, topped with a cube of leftover cheese tray (today's was Farmer's Cheese) and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Using this method also works for Taco seasoned meat (when you realize you don't have any shells or wraps); or shredded leftover roast beef with BBQ sauce; use your imagination. Yes, you could use shredded cheese, I just had that cheese tray that needed used up! A serving is 2 biscuits. (The rest work great in lunches!)

Hint: If you have 12 muffin cups and only 8 or 10 biscuits, but 2 tablespoons of water into the empty cups, this helps the pan bake more evenly.

You can do this with Taco flavored meat (when you discover you are out of taco shells or wraps) and shredded leftover roast beef with BBQ sauce! Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Use your imagination!

Chicken Challenge!
I am working on the math (a story problem on steriods, if ever there was one!) and plan to share the final results with you later this week.

Tuesday's Tip!
There are many, many sites online to get coupons and money-saving tips. One of my favorites is The Frugal Girls. Their site is simple and easy to link for online coupons. Check it out!


Stoney's Crew: Monday--Menu Plan & Mourning!

How could this have happened? Stoney's Crew is heartbroken...the Colts lost the Super Bowl. Not only do we have to deal with the sorrow of that sad turn of events, we have the leftovers too!

The Kid left this morning to return to college (Monday class not until after lunch--lucky dude) and a bag of things like Hamburger Helper, packaged chicken meal kits, instant potatoes, coupons, and a Valentine gift of Amish Peanut Butter went with him. Even The Pooch (a Cocker Spaniel) is recovering from this visit...he has been snoring ALL DAY!

Well it is that time to announce the week's menu for Menu Plan Monday...yes, I know I still owe you some info on the ongoing saga of the "How many meals in that Chicken? Challenge"...we'll get to that in a moment. Menu for the week first...

This Week's Menu:
Monday, 2/8: Leftovers! (doesn't mean they have to appear in the same format does it?)

Tuesday, 2/9: Tortellini Al Forno, Salad, Fruit

Wednesday, 2/10: French Toast, Bacon, Fruit

Thursday, 2/11: Fried Rice, Egg Rolls (yep, didn't get served last week!)

Friday, 2/12: Swiss Steak, Baked Potato, Corn, Salad

Saturday, 2/13: Tacos, Salad

Sunday, 2/14: Lasagna, Salad, Vanilla Spice Texas Sheet Cake

Chicken Meals Update
So far from that bird Stoney's Crew has reported on: Slow Cook Chicken, Chicken & (Homemade) Noodles, Chicken Enchiladas, Chicken Subs, The FLOP! of the week, and Chicken Noodle Casserole (made with homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup using the Chicken Stock). For a total of 21 servings or meal equivalents. Today, we are going to review the White Chicken Chili.

This is based on my own In a Rush Chicken Chili:
1 10 oz can chicken
1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 24 oz or larger jar of Great Northern Beans
1 4 oz can of chopped green chilis
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 softball size onion chopped
1 teaspoons Chili powder (or more)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Normally, for this recipe, I put everything in the pot (except the sour cream and cheese) and bring to gentle rolling boil and cook until onions are transparent. About 10 minutes before serving, I add the sour cream and cheese stirring until melted.

For this adventure I used 2 cups homemade chicken; 2 quarts chicken stock from another experiment that I will report on later in the week. I used dry beans; 2-1/2 cups dry navy beans--soaked all night the night before. I put everything into my slow cooker (except sour cream and cheese) and let cook on low about 8 hours. About 10 minutes before serving I added the sour cream and cheese just like the faster stove top method.

I served with Chili Onion Cheddar Corn Muffins (add a little chili powder, a bit of finely diced onion, and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese to muffin mix and bake at 350 until done). A dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on the Chili completed the meal. And yes, The Kid walked in the door and I forgot to get a picture! I promise to be more diligent this week!

This tasty and hearty meal serves (at least) 8! This chicken total is now up to: 29! All but 5 of the servings (the Chicken & Noodles) contained meat. Remember Stoney was sick with a sore throat, so no meat in that meal, just stock! And yes, there is still enough there to make the Egg Rolls promised last week, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it...If I had I am sure Stoney and I would be clucking! He was definitely ready for beef Saturday. I will share the Spanish Sloppy Joe Sauce recipe that I made on Saturday in tomorrow's edition of Stoney's Crew!


Stoney's Crew: Chicken Noodle Casserole Experiment!

Well, after the debacle yesterday, one must do a couple of things. Go Shopping! and "Get back up on that horse!" The shopping part was easy for me. I am a firm believer in retail therapy--but that does not mean that I purchase anything everytime I wander out into the retail world. Yes, folks, I am very selective on my purchases. (Stoney finds my need to browse difficult to comprehend.)

After a month of Pantry Challenge (or least a Stoney's Crew version of it), some of the inventory was beginning to thin considerably. Folks, Stoney's Crew was even out of ground beef in the freezer. First time for everything I guess. That means...Amish Shopping!

Yes, here in the land of Stoney's Crew (northern Indiana, in case you haven't guessed!) is a large Amish community. Allen, Noble, Stueben, DeKalb, Elkhart, LaGrange, and Kosciusko counties of Indiana all have many Amish and Mennonite families. The largest populations seem to be in the Elkhart, LaGrange and Stueben counties with the shopping mecca being Shipshewana, Indiana. Shipshewana is about an hour's drive from Stoney's Crew and there are many, many stores to browse through in this little town.

Arts, crafts, quilts, home decor, furniture, antiques, and, you betcha, FOOD! I will do a post in the near future about some of the sights, sounds, and fun to be had in that area. Today, I was on a quick mission, so I only visited Yoder's Meat & Cheese and E&S Sales. I had to make tracks back to the Stoney's Crew homestead to work on today's chicken challenge. The things that I do for you! And yes, it was snowing today...quite a bit actually. The Stoney's Crew Colt looks nasty after the trip...a bath for that steed when it warms up for sure!

One of the sites that I lurk at (monitor) is Kitchen Stewardship. I noticed a recipe for Cream of ... Soups so I thought that I would give it a try. Of course, I have to modify...the Stoney's Crew kitchen is a lab remember. (Mahwwwaaaaah!)

The major modifications? Quantity reduction (1/2) and Yoder's had Dried Sliced Shitake Mushrooms for $1.11 for .055 lb. knowing this was less expensive than the previously planned fresh (8 oz $1.99 on sale) I decided to try it! Reconstituting the mushrooms was easy. The package directions were: rinse in cold water, cover in boiling water and soak for 15-20 minutes before draining. 1 oz of dry mushrooms is the equavilant of 4 oz. fresh.

Stoney's Crew Cream of Mushroom Soup
3 tablespoons butter (divided)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cloves fresh minced garlic (or more we like garlic!)
1/2 a chopped onion (mine was a softball size onion)
Reconstituted Dried Sliced Shitake Mushrooms (or equivalent 4 oz. Fresh sliced mushrooms)
2 cups milk (skim)
1 cup chicken stock (yeppers, some of that fab stuff from the bird)
Dash of ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan, add onion and mushrooms. Saute until limp. Move to side of pan. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in pan, add flour and not brown the flour. Add the milk and chicken stock stir. Simmer 15-20 minutes until thickened. After it has thickened, put into blender, food processor or use an immersion blender if you have one to "cream".

Good thing these bunny slippers move fast--a near catostrophe was narrowly averted when I discovered that the bottom of my blender was not affixed tightly after pouring a bit in. Oooops! That is why Every Day is an adventure!

Wellah! you have now made approximately 2 pints of cream of mushroom soup. I probably would have produced a bit more than the 2 pints without the ooops! When using in a recipe, please keep in mind that this is not condensed, so you may not need as much milk or liquid that a recipe calls for.

Stoney's Crew version of Chicken Noodle Casserole is about as easy as you can get!

Stoney's Crew Chicken Noodle Casserole

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (in this case a scant pint or half of above recipe, refrigerate other half)
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas (or peas and carrots)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 to 1 cup milk
1/2 bag of store bought noodles (I have never tried my homemade in this!)
1/2 cup crushed croutons
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to package direction, drain. Mix chicken, vegetables, cheese with the noodles. Pour mixture and milk into 9x9 casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle croutons on top and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, a picture would have been nice--but it slipped my mind. Sorry folks!

Overview of the day's events:
thumbs up! No surprise on that one!
Dried Mushrooms:
thumbs up for soup, I will continue to use fresh for Alfredo and Al Forno sauces/meals.

Number of servings from casserole:

Chicken Meal Counter: 21!



Stoney's Crew: Chicken Challenge A Two'fer Update!

Monday's menu...couldn't be much simplier. A quick and easy light supper for a busy day of laundry and Post-Weekend Pick-Up!

Chicken, Bacon & Cheese Subs. Wrap these ingredients in a bakery bun (I splurged last week on Cheddar Rolls at the grocery bakery) and seal in aluminum foil loosely. The Cheese you ask, why Stoney likes Cojack, me? Swiss, please. Let the packets warm low and slow in the oven to become a toasty, crusty, cheesy, ooey, gooey sandwich of happiness. I cooked the bacon in the microwave to contain the mess and make perfect, flat pieces of bacon, although you can't see it here! Serve with a side of green beans that simmered with onion and a slice of bacon and a salad. Ooooo-la-la. We use a choice of condiments like hot peppers, mustards and I LOVE the Super Simply the Best Salad Dressing that I make to give it a fabulous sweet and sour flavor that can make your tastebuds dance. Joy abounds when this quick supper is on the busy night schedule. Yep, it is fab.

The saga of the Ranch Chicken Pizza. I woke up Tuesday morning truly stoked about the adventure in the lab for the day. My bunny slippers were freshly laundered and they were feelin' adventuresome. Yes, I was going to try a new development. One that in my own little world sounded like a fabulous idea. My bunny slippers and I were just glistening with excitement! I was going to create a Chicken Pizza utilizing Ranch Salad Dressing Mix. Yep, creative juices were flowing!

I started this adventure by making a crust utilizing Ranch Salad Dressing Mix and butter coating the crust. Doesn't that sound just fabulous! It was! Did I quit while I was ahead? Feeling particularly brave, and with the bunnies cheering me on, I opted for creation. Instead of using the good ole' tried and true Alfredo sauce for the base or even a tomato-based Italian sauce or how about a Buffalo BBQ..., I decided to create a white Ranch flavored sauce. Doesn't that sound just wonderful. Is there anything that isn't tasty with a little bit of Ranch Salad Dressing on it?

Then the troubles began. I was unable to get the white base to thicken for some in a fit of inspiration I added Mozzeralla and Parmesan Cheese, still not enough. It was now the consistancy of thickened water (with tapioca size balls of seemingly unmeltable cheese in it). Unfazed, I trudged on, adding the Ranch flavorings. I can pull this out of my hat yet, I just know it! I add my 2 cups of chicken and let simmer for 10, then 15, then 20, (oh, dear) then 25 minutes. I let that bird simmer for 45 minutes and finally thought, "hey, surely the chicken is Ranch flavored by now, just go with the flow." Yep, I drained the chicken, and put onto my beautifully created crust. Covered with Mozzerella Cheese (yes, more, this was gonna be one EXPENSIVE dish.) I baked and tentatively pulled it out of the oven and cut for serving.

See here is a picture of a piece.

Doesn't look too bad. That is if you are into colorless, bland looking food...but I can do boring white food if it is packed with flavor. How about you?

Well, Stoney and I gave it a try. We discussed the flavor. In fact, talked about our disappointment at the meal's total LACK of any zesty Ranch flavor. Then came the big question, will you eat it if I pack some in your lunch? The answer was, "Yes, but I don't think this recipe warrants a repeat." The man is a saint, but please don't tell him I said that! So I packed the remainder away for our lunches, thinking that I would be able to salvage a score of 4 on the challenge at least.

Then it happened.

Yes, the WORST possible of scenarios in the lab.

When the pizza pan was being washed it was discovered.

The small amount of sauce that had leached out of the chicken while the pizza was baking had removed, yes folks, removed, the finish of the poor innocent pan. Yes, the evil sauce had proven itself to be lethal to non-stick. My first thought was, "if the pizza did this to the pan, what on earth is happening to our innards?" Should I turn this carefully crafted idea over to homeland security for a potential biohazard? I sighed a heavy, sad, dejected sigh and threw out the carefully packaged leftover pizza and cleaned up the kitchen. And, yes, I set the antacids out on the counter before I went to bed.

Well I am less than a week into this new life of blog, and I must stamp this Ranch Chicken Pizza Recipe a Stoney's Crew FLOP!

Tomorrow is another day. A day to look forward to adventure and grand slam fun! An excursion. It was going to be a sunny day so that means, "ROAD TRIP!" The well-documented therapy for FLOP depression! A trip to the nearby Amish community's grocery and butcher shop.

Chicken Meal Counter: +2 on Monday. Should have been +4 on Tuesday (if I had not been soooo creative) so we are up to a total of 16!



Stoney's Crew: Chicken Enchiladas O'Lay!

Put on your sombrero, it is time to do the Mexican Hat Dance here in the lab! This is one of the most simple recipes that I have for chicken...and we love using a couple of cups of our home cooked bird. This recipe officially serves 2, but here at Stoney's Crew, it is a 2 for dinner plus 1 for lunch the next day for Stoney. That gives it a score of 3 on this challenge! This recipe easily doubles, triples, and more!

Chicken Enchiladas

I adapted this from a recipe that I found in Taste of Home 2008 Annual Recipes (Alicia Johnson, Hillsboro, Oregon)

1/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles (use a minced or finely chopped jalapeno if you dare! just saute with onion & garlic)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander*
1/8 teaspoon pepper*
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese (divided) *
3/4 to 1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 flour tortillas (8 inches) (I usually use 5!)

In a small saucepan, saute onion and garlic (and jalapeno) in butter until tender. Combine with broth. Stir in the chilies, coriander and pepper. Bring to boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese and the sour cream until cheese is melted. (generally add more cheese here--closer to 3/4 of a cup)

Combine chicken and 3/4 cup sauce. Place about 1/2 cup chicken mixture down the lower third of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 11 x 7 x 2 baking dish (I sprayed with non-stick coating). Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas.

Here the chicken mix is in the lower 1/3 of the tortilla.

Bring the bottom up.

Pull the outside edges in. (Yes, I know, this is more like an Egg Roll, but I like the tidy package aspect of doing it this way!)

All wrapped up!

4 Little Enchiladas all in a row!

Pour the remaining sauce over the Enchiladas and bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Garnish with sour cream, a lime slice, olives, tomatoes, and green onions if desired.

*I forgot to add the coriander and the pepper the first time I made! (arrgh!) Especially since I bought a bottle of coriander $5 for this recipe...oh was tasty without it--but better with!

I suggest you use the 11 x 7 x 2 pan as indicated in the recipe...It seemed like a lot of pan for 4-5 tortillas, but then I had too much sauce in the pan when I used a smaller one! Oh well, it was still tasty! 2 of these large enchiladas was way too much for me! The last one went into Stoney's lunch the next day!

I served with my lazy version of Spanish Rice. Cook rice (1 cup rice, 2 cups of water.) After the rice is cooked (I like my microwave rice cooker) add 1/2 to 3/4 cup picante or salsa to taste. Homemade or pre-made salsa...your choice! If you use homemade fresh salsa, you may want to simmer it a bit to meld the flavors into the rice...oh yeah...I mean OH LAY!

I have up'd this recipe to 4x; tastes great; just needed multiple 9x13 baking dishes to accommodate.

Chicken Challenge Meals +3! So far that's 10 meals from this bird!

Go Colts!


Stoney's Crew: Simply The Best Salad Dressing!

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. salad oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Mix all together in a shaker bottle, and keep in the fridge! Serve on mixed green salad that includes Feta Cheese and homemade croutons.

Stoney's Crew: French Salad Dressing

1-1/4 cup salad oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ketchup or catsup
1-1/2 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for at least 10 minutes.

Stoney’s Crew: The Healing Power of Chicken & Noodles

Uh oh! Stoney is feelin’ poorly. Yep, he is complaining of a sore throat and cold. That can only mean one thing…BREAK OUT THE CHICKEN & NOODLES. Good thing I just cooked that chicken isn’t it! There is a fresh batch of broth and making noodles is quick, easy, cheap, and nothing tastes better when you aren’t feeling the best.

This recipe is the recipe that my Mom always made when I was a kid. She snagged it from Auntie Helen. Oh, the memories of the excitement in the house when Mom was making a batch…and the dirty looks we got when we would snitch a few as she was rolling them out! Yes, priceless! (Pizza Cutter? Trust me just keep reading!)

This is how the official recipe reads:
Aunt Helen’s Noodles
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1-1/2 cups flour
Beat eggs good. Add salt and melted butter—add ½ cup flour and beat with egg beater. Stir in the rest of flour with knife. Cut right away.
*just as an FYI, use Butter folks. Trust me you don’t want to ruin this perfect recipe by substituting margarine, butter spreads, or oil!

Now-a-days, I use my mixer (it has a dough hook) and depending on the size of mixer you have, you can double, triple, or quad the recipe. I try to keep it to no greater than double at a time here at Stoney's Crew. The dough can start to stiffen quickly, and I am getting slower at rolling it out! Also note that the flour quantity is a rough estimate. It depends on the weather. Yep, the weather has a lot to do with the quantity of flour required. Sometimes I have found in the dry winter months less flour is needed; so it is best to add that last cup a little bit at a time! You will want nice soft dough. I ultimately usually choose to make an entire stick of butter in a day (a quad if you’re feeling ambitious, or break that down to a couple of batches like me!). The remaining noodles will freeze well after they dry. Just try to get as much extra air out of the bag as you can. On this day, I only made a double. I hadn’t planned on making Chicken & Noodles with this particular bird!

Here are a few pics on how the process works:
Always crack your eggs in a separate bowl rather than just adding to the recipe you are working on...if you get a nasty spoiled egg, you won't ruin the whole recipe that way. Hint: I also usually break the yolks a bit before adding to the mix.

Exciting isn't it?

Yep, this is what it looks like when it is ready to roll out!

Throw some flour on the counter and put the ball of dough on top and commence rolling!

Yep, here it is rolled out. Two things, a double batch of dough is really too big to roll out at once, so I cut in half. (See it there on the left?) Roll the dough to about 1/8" thick. Cut the dough into fourths. You will see why in a moment.

Yep, fold the pieces over one another right to left, and then repeat top to bottom...or bottom to top!

See what I mean?

Yes, folks, this was a moment of brilliance here at the Stoney's Crew lab! Use a really good Pizza Cutter (mine is from Pampered Chef) to cut the noodles. In preparation to make the noodles, I opened the drawer to get the knife out and...the little voices in my head spoke and said, "USE THE PIZZA CUTTER!" It is just amazing sometimes, I have been making noodles for more years than I care to admit, and I just made this discovery. That is what makes EVERY DAY an adventure here in the lab!

Oh my, there they are in all of their freshly cut glory. Yes, go ahead snag one and pop it in your mouth and savor that rich, buttery goodness. (I know, there is raw egg in them, but if people can put a raw egg in a protein shake, you can ingest a noodle's worth of it.) Now roll the other half of the dough.

If you are truly bound to have straight noodles, you can carefully keep them all lined up to dry. Here we like curly!

Ideally, you can let the noodles dry a bit (Grandma H always tried for overnight—or all day if she made them early in the morning and there were no kids around!); but this isn’t always a possibility. If you can let them dry an hour or two that is fine too. I went the short route this time. It was an emergency after all. Stoney was sick!

Now for the cooking!
Bring your broth to a rolling boil. When using homemade stock, skim the fat off of the top; pour the rich homemade gel/stock in the pot and add at least an equal amount of water. I used a quart of stock gel, so I added a quart of water. If you use purchased stock, don’t water it down.

When the stock** comes to a rolling boil you can begin SLOWLY adding the noodles. Try to shake off some of the extra flour, too much flour in your pot and your broth will turn to gravy quickly. Add the noodles a slow, gentle handful at a time; so that the stock has a chance to return to a boil. Adding all of the noodles all at once will create a big solid mass of noodle dough in the pan or worse.
The object is to make NOODLES not A NOODLE the exact shape and size of your pot! Slow and steady wins the race! After the noodles are all in the pot turn the heat down to simmer and put the lid on for approximately 5 minutes. Check on the noodles, if they are absorbing a lot of liquid too quickly, you can add a little more water a bit at a time. Let the noodles simmer for awhile.

**You can most certainly add 2 cups of chicken meat to the stock before bringing it up to a boil. I didn’t today because Stoney was having difficulty swallowing; otherwise, yep, that bird would have made an appearance in the pot!

At GG’s we always let the noodles simmer all morning on New Year’s Day so we could watch the Rose Parade! Just check their status periodically. This is an “Eyeball It” program folks. You know what looks like “needs a touch more liquid” is. If you want to make soup, use double the stock, but at Stoney’s Crew we would rather have this version and save the other quart of stock for other recipes! Yeah, if you really want to you can use a combo of store bought and homemade stock, but when a member of Stoney’s Crew is feelin’ poorly, I don’t want to put those extra unpronounceable chemicals our bodies.

About Noodle Making
Grandma H used to roll out the noodles on a day old newspaper. This helped to dry the noodles, and it made them more portable after she cut them (she rolled out on the kitchen table, and moved to another room to dry). DO NOT use newspapers today. The inks now do not absorb into the newspaper. The ink lays on top of the paper. Yep, if you use a newspaper, you will have gray/blackish noodles and ruin the healthy benefits of the homemade noodles by adding unwanted and dangerous chemicals to your body. If, for drying purposes, you want to make the noodles more portable move to parchment paper or a clean piece of plain white paper table cloth after cutting. I personally am spoiled. I have a large island in the kitchen that I can leave the noodles on to dry. Some folks use “noodle dryers or racks” to hang the noodles over to dry. I can’t see the need of such a thing occupying the valuable cabinet real estate in my kitchen for storage of one. It’s your kitchen; you decide what works best for you.

Here in the land of Stoney’s Crew we grew up with a dinner menu comprised of Chicken (or Beef) and Noodles (with meat included), Mashed Potatoes, Corn or Peas. (A side salad and fruit too!) There are those of you that think that is starch overload, well, o.k. maybe, but don’t knock it until you try it…

Grocery Round-Up!
Today is Wednesday, that means grocery ads in this neck of the woods! I shop at any of the following stores: Marsh, Martin’s, Meijer, Target, Publix, Wal-Mart, and Winn-Dixie have quick and easy loading sales fliers Kroger/Owen’s/Scott’s not so much… I find their site so lacking in ease-of-use that I won’t even provide the link here, I resort to the old-fashioned newspaper ad. And it is sad, because I loved shopping at Scott’s before they were purchased by Kroger. [Sigh!] I like to use the online circulars to begin the “ponderation” of menus incorporating loss leaders whenever possible.

This batch of noodles made 5 servings.

The official adult meal count for the current Chicken Challenge is 7.

Go Colts!