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Stoney's Crew: Back Door Guests Are Always Best!

Welcome to the Stoney's Crew Lab to all of our Back Door Guests and Ultimate Blog Party Adventurers! Won't you stay a moment and enjoy a cup of coffee and a Banana Nut Muffin with me?

How Stoney's Crew came to be is purely an accidental thing really. You see, I have children (The Princess now out on her own and The Kid now in college) that now that they really need to know how, they have asked to learn recipes and/or how to do things in order to survive on their own. I have picked up a friend here and there over the years that would ask for a helpful hint or two along the way, so rather than repeating myself, I opted for a blog and Stoney's Crew was born. Why the name Stoney's Crew? Because I am married to Stoney of course! That makes me The Crew! Careful there, I prefer "The Crew" to "The Shrew"!

In February of this year, Stoney's Crew began as a record to document how many meals could be made from a single chicken roasted in the crock pot. By the time February was over, Stoney was nearly clucking full time! Meander on over to the sidebar there, expand February and have a peek at all of the fabulous things I did with that bird (and yes, there was a documented FLOP! as well!) A cost analysis of the meals is captured in the recap. Occasionally I will post other recipes requiring chicken as we travel this road together.

March was a time of re-engineering to make my cooking style and Stoney's newly desired eating style mesh together in a re-engineering process and in April a new outlook and the spring cleaning and remodeling bug has bit--big time! So we are working on that and, of course, there are the Stoney's Crew Once-A-Month (OAMC) or Freezer Cooking hints and tips along the way. Some tried and true OAMC and Freezer Cooking enthusiasts will probably shake their head in amazement at the Stoney's Crew style. Not too many of them do things like package Microwave Popcorn or hard-boil 2 dozen eggs, but here at The Lab we do things to fit our lifestyle and if that is a little wacky to you, we don't mind because we think so too and that is what makes it fun!

If after you have a look around, you enjoy the visit, by all means, become a fan on Facebook here. That way you will always know what is happening at The Lab and you can visit often!

Oh, you like that creamer in your coffee? I made it and you can too! Here is the recipe!

Stoney's Crew French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

2 cups milk (what ever kind you like, I usually use Skim)
1 cup sugar
Bring to a boil in a heavy saucepan (about 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer)
Let this mixture cool slightly.
Add at least 1 tablespoon of Vanilla (I use about 2, we like vanilla!) and 3-1/2 cups of cold milk (again I use Skim) and pour into a pitcher or caraf and store in the refrigerator.

Making this will cost approximately half what buying it would and you know what is in it! Oh yeah, if you detect a hint of chocolate in the flavor...there is! I love Chocolate Truffle Coffee (purchased on sale with a coupon--doubled of course!) and mixing caffiene with chocolate, yes, that is bliss!

As a bit of added response to Mrs. E's question...this will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks...If I am feeling particularly ambitious and milk is on sale I will make a couple of batches and freeze one. Just make sure to leave enough "head space" in your container (like a 1/4-1/2") for expansion. Added bonus: Use 1/2 to 1 cup of this "creamer" as part of the milk required in a box of instant pudding. I like the chocolate with that vanilla background flavor OR the new Cheesecake flavor by Jell-o...with some strawberries on the side...oh yeah, now we are really talkin'!

This post is also linked to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday for April 13, 2010.

I enjoyed your visit, come again soon, and remember "Back Door Guests are Always Best!"


Stoney's Crew: Chicken Strips to Make Ahead

I am not much of a Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC) type...with just Stoney and me here at the lab, it would end up being Once-A-QUARTER Cooking! Especially since Stoney no longer takes leftovers for lunch! So I pretty much stick with Stoney Style OAMC...things like Microwave Popcorn, muffins, granola bars, and such!

That said, while floating around in the blog-o-sphere, I happened across the blog "Cooking During Stolen Moments." After reading a couple of entries and recipes I became a subscriber! This recipe is adapted from Kate's recipe.

Stoney's Crew Chicken Strips
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup just add water pancake mix
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce (you decide how much for your family, we like "warm")
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut chicken breasts into strips (or chunks or cubes). Mix the remainder of the ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk.
Heat oil in fryer or fry pan to about 350 degrees F. When the oil is ready, dip and cover the chicken strips in the batter and place in hot oil, turning after 3 minutes. After side 2 has cooked an additional 3 minutes remove to papertowel lined platter or cookie sheet.

Serve with Ranch or Blue Cheese Salad Dressing (or your family favorite sauce) for dipping. This batch made more than enough for 2 meals for Stoney & I; so to keep it simple let's say it serves 4.

If you would like to freeze and store the strips for future use, flash freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then store in airtight ZipLoc in freezer. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 15 minutes.

These strips do freeze well, and when I make again, I will double or triple the recipe and freeze. Not because it was difficult to make or because I have a burning desire to OAMC!...more because I am anti-mess in the kitchen and even after all of these years, finding a way to NOT make a mess while deep-frying has eluded me so a big batch and one time mess it is! This batter would also be great for fish!

If you have any tips on how to fry and not make a mess, drop a comment below! I would love to have help on this! Hmmmm...I wonder if I could use the burner on the grill and make these outside...I feel a lab experiment coming on!

Stoney's Crew: I've been a bit occupied!

Just thought I would give you a peek at what has been keeping me busy on Monday's and Friday's for the last month...pretty cute reason isn't it? Now that that particular project is completed, I guess that I had better get busy experimenting again here in the Stoney's Crew Lab!


Stoney's Crew: Once A Month Cooking?

Although I am not what is considered a true Once A Month Cooking participant, the first of this month brought an opportunity to participate in Money Saving Mom's Once A Month Cooking Challenge (OAMC) Stoney Crew Style. Since it is only Stoney and I here at the ranch these days, OAMC in the tried and true way would be once a QUARTER cooking if I were to go full out on a real cooking binge. As it is, I would rather batch cook. For example when I thaw out ground beef (2 pound packages usually) I will brown all 2 pounds. Use 1/2 pound for the current recipe and divide and freeze the remaining browned ground beef in 3 separate packages. One mess, multiple meals. The ground beef is then ready for multiple uses...depending on my menu for the week. Want tacos or enchiladas, thaw the cooked beef and add the appropriate seasoning. If I want speghetti, lasagne, or similar "Italian" dish, just add the appropriate ingredients and you are halfway home to dinner on the table. Likewise, when I make Meatloaf, I use a 2 pound package of ground beef and make 3 each 1 pound size Meatloafs. One for dinner that day, and 2 for the freezer for another day.

I make Granola Bars and Banana Nut Muffins in a similar fashion. My recipe for Granola makes 28 bars, cut up, wrapped, and frozen individually. Banana Nut Muffins? 12 at a time so on the first I made 2 dozen, wrapped, and froze them individually. That way Stoney can alternate between Granola Bars and Muffins in his lunch and I had extra to pass out to a couple of folks this week as a treat.

I was looking for an interesting change-up this month while the muffins were baking (I only have muffin tins to bake a dozen at a time, so I had some time to multi-task between batches.) I opted to make Microwave Popcorn.

Stoney likes to have a bag of popcorn in the evenings while watching his favorite TV shows and/or movies. This part of an ongoing effort to wean him off of the more prepackaged, "flavor-enhanced" convenience foods. Side bonus? It was cheaper than buying Orville's! How did I do it? I will say, that I was reading another blog, when this came to my attention...unfortunately, I can't find my notes to give the appropriate credit...but I do remember doing this when we were in high school for after school snacks or as we called it "brain food" for homework time. We also made Carmel Corn in the microwave, I am going to look for that recipe and post in the future...I remember it was made in a brown paper grocery sack!

Microwave Popcorn
13 brown paper lunch bags
1 package (2 pounds) Popcorn
Scotch Tape
1 gallon ZipLoc bag to master pack
Open 13 brown paper lunch bags to create assembly line.
Add 1/3 cup popcorn to each bag
Lay bag flat
Fold open edge over 1/2 inch 3 times and tape with approximately 1 inch tape
Follow folds of bag to fold into thirds and place in "master" Ziploc and store in the freezer. You don't have to store in the freezer, but I do. When I was a kid growing up we grew popcorn in the fields for make sure that what we gleaned from the field for our own personal use stayed "pop-r-riffic" until the next harvest, we kept in the freezer. This stops the kernels from continuing their natural drying and makes for a better "pop puff."

When ready to pop, depending on your microwave, place and cook in microwave seam side up for approximately 2-3 minutes. Just like the prepared stuff, you will hear when it is mostly popped.

Admittedly, in order to convert Stoney, I did have to promise to provide a bottle of Squeeze Parkay (or similar) in the refrigerator so that he could squirt some in the bag, add a dash of salt, shake in the bag to cover and eat...but price-wise I still come out ahead on the deal doing this as the cost per package to make is 21 cents per bag compared to 37 cents of the purchased variety. Unless he uses about 3 times the recommended "serving" size of the Parkay!